Celebrations Around the World: Lag B’Omer

What: In Ashkenazi Judaism (the larger of two major ancestral groups of Jewish people), the Omer is the verbal counting of 49 days between Passover and Shavuot, when God handed down the Jewish holy scriptures, known as the Torah. Lag B’Omer is the 33rd day in the Omer.

Why: An ancient plague that killed 24,000 Jews came to an end on this date.

How: Parties and haircuts are forbidden during the Omer, but on Lag B’Omer these restrictions are lifted, providing a break from the solemnity. Bonfires are a common way to mark the occasion, symbolising the light of spiritual revelation. As haircuts are forbidden throughout Omer, it is traditional for Jewish parents to give a child his or her first haircut on Lag B’Omer.

We always love to hear from customers about their own celebrations. Please get in touch if you have observed any of May’s festivals and would like to share stories or photos with us!

 


Meet The Team: Lisa Dyson, Service Coordinator, Quality Assurance Team

Every month, we introduce you to one of our team. This month, meet Lisa Dyson, Service Coordinator, Quality Assurance Team.

Tell us all about the role you do for TLS

We look after assessors who are assessing interpreters’ quality for the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the role is very varied. We do everything from ensuring the assessors’ pay is correct, helping with booking assessors in for assessments, quality checking the assessments and literally anything else the assessors may need. We also have In Person Assessments, which involves role play. For these we have a set script, depending on the complexity level of the assessment, and could either be the English speaking police officer, barrister or something similar. As these need to be recorded on Zoom, I’ve grown comfortable with being on Zoom!

What's been your favourite project at TLS?

I don’t really have a favourite project at TLS so far, as I have been here just under a year. I have so many different parts to my role, so I really do not get bored and the day goes quickly! I am still learning new parts of the role, to be able to take on new tasks, so maybe my favourite just hasn’t happened yet.

What has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge so far is writing up all the notes on the different processes; once I have done a task on my own, I am usually good with being able to pick it up any other time, but as the role can be pretty hectic at times, that’s been the biggest thing for me. I love my notes!

If you didn’t do your current job, what would you like to do?

If I didn’t do my current job, I used to want to be a police dog handler, though I think I am far too old to get on that career path now! Realistically I would love to run a wedding venue for glamping weddings. I love to organise stuff like this; give me a list and stuff to research, an Excel sheet and I am happy.

Tell us something interesting about you.

I once got banned from Pulse radio station for winning too many things! I won all sorts, including a chance to meet and greet the band The Corrs, £600 in Sainsbury’s vouchers and other little prizes. It’s not my fault I knew to a tee when the time to call was going to be and had my mobile ready to call!

After being told I couldn’t enter any more competitions, there was a big one to win a car. Every caller who got through won a spot to pick a car key out of a bucket at the VW garage, so as I was banned my sister and a couple of other friends agreed to go with me if I got through to get a key, the promise being if one of them won I would give them half the money for the car. My mum got her name called but she didn’t have the lucky key - the person after her did, gutted!

If you could meet someone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

I would love to meet Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode when I go to Paris in June to see them in concert. They are one of my favourite bands, so if someone could make it happen that would be great!

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

Just to keep on going as I am, learning, improving and moving up to the Service Plus Co-ordinator role, as I’ve been doing a lot of training with newer staff and taking on a lot of different responsibilities.

Personally, I am hoping I have a better idea of what my retirement could look like. We are going to France to see if there is the possibility of us living over there eventually and would love to have something exciting to look forward to for when the time comes.

If you would like to be profiled, or know someone else who would, please get in touch by emailing zainub.patel@newham.gov.uk


Service under the Spotlight: On Demand Telephone Interpreting

Each month, we will be getting better acquainted with a TLS service; when and why you might need it, how to book it and how to make the most of the booking.

You may be new to the world of booking language support, or perhaps you book the same service each time because you don’t know what else is out there, or perhaps you have never considered that something different might work for you – this is for you!

In this issue, we are looking at our On Demand Telephone Interpreting. This is arranged by calling up our designated ODTI line and we will connect you by phone to an interpreter at any time of day, with no notice needed.

It is for you if:

You need an interpreter at short notice.

It is not for you if:

You need an interpreter for a more sensitive or complex subject, where body language, visual cues or establishing trust may be important.

When it works best:

As participants in the conversation cannot see each other, this kind of interpreting works best for simple and brief interactions, eg a ten minute GP appointment for a minor illness.

Tips to get the most from your booking:

  • To make sure everyone can be heard well, try to choose a location that is quiet and use a landline rather than a mobile where possible
  • Introductions are even more important when participants cannot see each other; ensure you do a thorough introduction at the outset of the call. If it is not obvious who is speaking, you may want each speaker to identify themselves every time they speak
  • A smile can be heard in your voice. Smiling when you talk can help to put your service user at ease with what is probably an unfamiliar situation.

If you would like to know more or make an on demand telephone booking, call our bookings team for guidance and support on 0808 175 1230.


TLS launches personal safety training for interpreters

Last month, TLS hosted a breakaway training session for our British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters who work at Springfield Hospital. The breakaway course was designed to help interpreters learn how to remove themselves from potential harm. The training provided simple, effective skills and knowledge that will help interpreters understand how to safely disengage themselves from aggressive situations.

We are committed to the continuous professional development of our interpreters, with many training events taking place throughout the year.

If you would like to join our interpreter webinar, or know someone else who would, please get in touch by emailing zainub.patel@newham.gov.uk


#StressAwarenessMonth: Taking the stress out of finding and booking an interpreter

April is Stress Awareness Month, so we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight how The Language Shop (tls) aims to take the stress out of finding and booking an interpreter in settings like hospitals, GP surgeries and schools for our UK public sector clients including local authorities and NHS Trusts.

As a leading language services provider with more than 30 years’ experience and a social enterprise with social values, we are acutely aware of how stressful it can be to find an interpreter with the relevant language, qualifications and skills, in the right location at the right time. It is often critical that a vulnerable person has this language-based support to access vital public services, which can add to the urgency and stress.

Our market-leading, all-in-one booking and management system, TLS Vista, and our on-ward tablet hardware, TLS Prism, makes it easy to get instant access to our pool of over 1700 experienced UK-based interpreters with 250 languages and British Sign Language for face-to-face, video or telephone assignments.

Our recent NHS customer satisfaction survey found that:

  • tls Interpreters are on time for 98% of appointments
  • 99% of interpreter appointments booked with us were rated as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’
  • 5% of respondents believe that tls bookings are 'easy to arrange’

The fact that everyone from our responsive helpdesk staff to the interpreters themselves have relevant experience in the field they’re dealing with also reassures our clients that we are a safe pair of hands.

But it’s not just those finding and booking language services that are under pressure, interpreters themselves are often under huge stress. That’s why we make interpreter wellbeing a top priority so that they can most effectively support vulnerable people. We offer a counselling hotline and other mental health support, as well as fair and flexible working practices and pay.

Find out more about us here.


Meet The Team: Sonia Davda, TLS interpreter

Every month, we introduce you to one of our team. This month, meet Sonia Davda, one of our interpreters who works in Gujarati, Urdu, Hindi and English.

Tell us about the role you do for TLS.

As someone originally employed as an interpreter, I have been able to develop and grow in TLS. Not only do I assist the patients in bridging the linguistic gap between them and the health professionals in Gujarati, Hindi and Urdu, I also assist with ACE assessments in the dementia memory clinic and support the doctors and nurses in creating the reports of the patients. Working at TLS has allowed me to combine my passion for languages with my desire to support those in need of mental health care.

What's been your favourite project at TLS?

I would say that dementia is my main focus of work with the memory clinic. As someone who has seen the impact of dementia first hand through my mother's experience, I am passionate about finding ways to improve the lives of those affected by this disease. Through my work with the memory clinic, I have had the opportunity to learn more about the latest research, treatments and care strategies for dementia. In turn, using the knowledge learnt to help improve the lives of patients has been extremely rewarding for me.

What has been your biggest challenge?

One challenge has been balancing the demands of interpreting with the need for quality patient care. As an interpreter, it can be difficult to maintain a neutral position while still conveying accurate information to both patients and doctors. However, by building strong relationships with patients and actively listening to their concerns, I am better able to support them in navigating the health care system. It is my immense pleasure and privilege to be working with extremely professional and caring professionals, and I have built a great rapport with them.

If you didn’t do your current job, what would you like to do?

If I didn't do my current job, I would love to become an interior designer. Designing my own home and Zen garden has been a passion of mine, and I find it extremely fulfilling to create a space that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional. Such work would allow me to use my creativity, attention to detail and problem-solving skills to make a meaningful difference in people's lives - just like I am in my current job!

Tell us something interesting about you.

One interesting thing about me is that I have a passion for fusion cooking and art and craft. I enjoy learning about the traditional methods and techniques used in Indian cuisine and experimenting with different flavours and spices. In addition, I find great joy in creating unique pieces of art and craft, such as handmade gift bags, greeting cards, artificial floral displays, decorating mirrors, candles. Creating “Best from waste” is my passion. When I'm not cooking or crafting, you can find me with my nose buried in a historical novel. I love exploring different time periods and immersing myself in the cultures of the past. I also enjoy penning down my philosophical thoughts in the form of poems. Whilst I was in India on my holidays, I learned to play the table, an Indian musical instrument.

If you could meet someone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

If I could meet someone, living or dead, it would be Mahatma Gandhi. As a source of inspiration to me, his unwavering commitment to justice and equality is something that I deeply admire. What I find most impressive about Gandhi is his humility and his humanity. Despite his incredible achievements, he always remained grounded and dedicated to serving others. It would be an honour to meet and learn from such a great leader and advocate for peace.

What are your ambitions for the next 12 months?

Although I am conversant with lots of medicines, I’d like to do a course on medication to enhance my knowledge and also to a do a refresher course in AMPSAR. Finally, food for thought which resonates with Thomas Odem: I have no desire to move mountains, construct monuments, or leave behind in my wake material evidence of existence but in the final recollection, if the essence of my being has caused a smile to have appeared upon anyone’s face or a touch of joy within their then in living - I have made my mark.

If you would like to be profiled, or know someone else who would, please get in touch by emailing zainub.patel@newham.gov.uk

 

 


April dates for your diary

Calendar snapshots

4th – Mahavir Janma Kalyanak, Jain

This is one of the most important Jain festivals, celebrating the birth of Mahavir, the 24th and last spiritual teacher of the dharma in our current time cycle. Across India, statues of Mahavir are anointed and special prayers are said, with many Jains giving extra to charity on and around this day.

6-13th – Passover, Judaism

Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is the Jewish festival celebrating the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt where they were held as slaves under Pharoah Ramses II. In a battle with the Egyptians to secure the slaves’ freedom, God had sent the Angel of Death to kill all the firstborn children. The Israelites were told to mark their doors so that their children were spared by the passing Angel; hence ‘passover’.

22nd – Eid al-Fitr, Islam

The festival that marks the end of Ramadan, Muslims believe that Eid al-Fitr was created by the Prophet Muhammed himself. It is a very lively and joyous celebration, where people dress up in new clothes, give extra to charity and share their first daytime meal for a month.

This month’s dates at a glance

Religious/cultural

2 – Palm Sunday, Christian

4 – Mahavir Janma Kalyanak, Jain

6 – Maundy Thursday, Christian

6 – Hanuman Jayanti, Hindu

6-8 – Theravada new year, Buddhist

6-13 – Passover, Judaism

7 – Good Friday, Christian

8 – Lazarus Saturday, Orthodox Christian

9 – Palm Sunday, Orthodox Christian

Easter Sunday, Christian

10 – Easter Monday, Christian

13 – Songkran, Thai new year, Buddhist

14 – Vaisakhi, Hindu and Sikh

14 – Puthandu, Hindu

Holy Friday, Orthodox Christian

16 – Pascha (Easter), Orthodox Christian

18 – Birthday of Guru Angad Dev, Sikh

Laylat al-Qadr, Islam

Yom HaShoah,Judaism

21 – First day of Ridvan, Baha’i

22 – Akshaya Tritiya, Hindu and Jain

Eid al-Fitr, Islam

23 – Saint George’s Day, Christian

25 – Yom HaZikaron, Judaism

25 – Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist, Catholic Christian

26 – Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Judaism

29 – Ninth day of Ridvan, Baha’i

30 – Saint James the Great’s Day, Orthodox Christian

Awareness and events

1 – April Fool’s Day

2 – World Autism Awareness Day

6 – International Asexuality Day

7 – World Health Day

8 – International Romani Day

22 – Earth Day

24-30 – Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week

25 – World Malaria Day

26 – Lesbian Visibility Day

28 – World Day for Health and Safety At Work


Rare Language Fact File: Hawaiian

Native to:  Hawaii

Number of native speakers:   Approx 2,000

Spoken by:  native Hawaiians

Learn some:

You might think that ‘aloha’ means ‘hello’, but the word actually has many meanings, including ‘love’, ‘peace’ and ‘mercy’. It also has religious and deep cultural significance. To play it safe, it’s best to greet Hawaiians with ‘mahalo’ (pronounced mah-hah-loh), which does just mean hello

Interesting facts:

Hawaiian only has 13 letters in its alphabet, exactly half the number of the English alphabet. It also has a glottal stop, called the Okina. A glottal stop is the sound Londoners make when they don’t pronounce their t’s; eg if the word ‘bottle’ as pronounced by an eastender was transcribed into Hawaiian, it would like something like ‘bo’le’.

  • Enforced use of English after the islands were colonised drove native language usage down, but since as early as 1945, there have been moves to save the Hawaiian language. Now it is taught in schools and used in higher academic settings.
  • This is a broadly positive thing, however the academic Hawaiian is distinctly different from informal, spoken Hawaiian. There is now a debate over which language is the authentic version to be preserved. Some argue that academic Hawaiian, the one most likely to be granted official status, is polluted by foreign interference and the grammar is too standardised, following colonial and Western norms.

The Language Shop provides support in any language you may need, including many of the rarer ones. Please speak to your account manager about your requirements.

 


Celebrations Around the World: Easter

What:

Easter celebrates the resurrection (rising from the dead) of Jesus Christ, following his crucifixion and burial.

Why:

Easter is one of the most important festivals for Christians, as they view Christ’s resurrection as proof that he is the Son of God and Messiah. It gave his followers new hope and renewed faith.

How:

Easter Sunday follows Holy Week, which is week of special religious observances, beginning the Sunday before Easter with Palm Sunday (Jesus’s entry to Jerusalem), Spy Wednesday (the betrayal of Jesus by Judas), Maundy Thursday (the Last Supper) and Good Friday (the crucifixion). People celebrate by attending a special church service and exchanging gifts that signify new life, such as chocolate eggs. Seasonal food such as lamb, hot cross buns or simnel cake is sometimes eaten. In many European cultures, there is special bread or cake cooked at Easter.

We always love to hear from customers about their own celebrations. Please get in touch if you have observed any of April’s festivals and would like to share stories or photos with us!

 


Service under the Spotlight: Translation and transcription

Each month, we will be getting better acquainted with a TLS service; when and why you might need it, how to book it and how to make the most of the booking.

You may be new to the world of booking language support, or perhaps you book the same service each time because you don’t know what else is out there, or perhaps you have never considered that something different might work for you – this is for you!

In this issue, we are looking at our translation and transcription service.

It is for you if:

You have a document that you need to send to a service user that cannot read English, or an audio file that you need in the written word.

Our translators will quickly and efficiently turn your document into the target language, localising anything that needs it (eg explaining any cultural references for an non-English audience).

Transcribers will take your audio file and type it up for you.

It is not for you if:

You really need a live conversation. A translation is not a substitute for an interpreted conversation; for example, if you are working in health care, it is better to use an interpreter than to translate information on a patient’s condition, which may leave them with questions you cannot answer.

If you want us to support a live conversation, please speak to our bookings team for a solution.

When it works best:

In any situation where the written word cannot be understood by you or your service user, or where audio files are not an appropriate format (eg you need a written transcript from a long, recorded meeting).

Tips to get the most from your booking:

If you are commissioning a translation for a service user, always check beforehand that they can read the language they speak. Sometimes people will speak one language and read another.

  • Providing the translator with any extra information you think may be relevant will help them to understand the job better, eg your audience, any context or technical information.
  • Our translators work fast, but please remember that this process can take more time than interpreting. If you are in a hurry, let the team know and we will do everything we can to assist you.

Call our bookings team for guidance and support on 0808 175 1230.