The Language Shop (tls) Local Authority case study: Tower Hamlets Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services

The Language Shop (tls) has more than 30 years’ experience in providing language services to Local Authorities across the country. In fact, we started out as a department of London Borough of Newham and the Council remains a major stakeholder in tls today.

Local Authority interpreting services span a range of complex assignments and environments, from social services and refugee support to housing and education. One such specialist area is Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Mobrea McKenzie-Govera and Julie Smart, CAMHS Administrators at Tower Hamlets London Borough Council, commented:

“As we are a service that offers support to individuals from different backgrounds and languages, it is imperative that we communicate with each patient and the families of patients.

“Without tls this would be a very challenging and difficult task as we facilitate different groups including parents who often do not speak English but need to know the progress of their children's health and welfare.

“We appreciate the professionalism of tls’ interpreters and other staff in understanding confidentiality and being able to connect with our patients. We consider their language services a part of the vital package of support we offer to our service users.”

The Language Shop (tls) charity case study: Carers First

Carers First works directly with and for carers, providing personalised information and tailored support in the way that suits them, helping them find balance and to live their lives to the fullest.

The Language Shop (tls) has been working with charity Carers First since 2017. We provide interpreters who have experience in dealing with a full range of complex situations 24/7/365 face-to-face or remotely, which is vital for the charity and their clients.

Renée Lindsay, Team Lead, Carers First, says:

“The Language Shop (tls) has been a key service which we have collaborated with regularly to provide support to carers by removing any barriers to communication.

“They are incredibly accessible and easy to use, with interpreters that can provide support on-demand, on the phone or in person. tls has provided a service that is invaluable to us and we cannot recommend them enough.”

tls shares the same values as charities like Carers First and works with some of the UK's largest third sector organisations to meet the language needs of their clients.

May dates for your diary

Calendar snapshots

5th – Vesak, Buddhism

Sometimes called Buddha Day, Vesak celebrates the Buddha’s birthday. Celebrations vary from country to country but are colourful and joyful. People clean and decorate their homes. Some hold ceremonies where water is poured over statues of the Buddha, to signify purification of thoughts and deeds.

8th – 14th – Mental Health Awareness Week

The Mental Health Foundation has held this awareness raising week every year since 2001, with the aim of helping to remove the stigma around mental health problems. Each year has its own theme; this year it is anxiety. Go to to find out more.

28th – Pentecost, Christian

Celebrated by Western and Orthodox Christian churches, Pentecost commemorates the Holy Spirit appearing to Christ’s Apostles and other followers while they were celebrating the Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot. It is considered by some to be the birthday of the Christian faith.

This month’s dates at a glance


1 –      Beltane, Wicca and Pagan

2 –      Twelfth day of Ridvan, Baha’i

Birthday of Guru Arjan Dev Sikh

3 –      Feast of Saints Philip and James, Catholic Christian

5 –      Vesak, Buddhist

9 –      Lag BaOmer, Judaism

14 –    Feast of Saint Matthias, Catholic Christian

18 –    Feast of the Ascension, Christian

19 –    Yom Yerushalayim, Judaism

23 –    Birthday of Guru Amar Das, Sikh

24 –    Declaration of the Báb, Baha’i

25 –    Feast of the Ascension, Orthodox Christian

26-27 – Shavuot, Judaism

28 –    Pentecost, Christian

29 –    Ascension of Baha‘u’llah, Baha’i

31 –    Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Catholic Christian

 Awareness and events

1 -       Bank Holiday UK (May Day)

1-7 –   Deaf Awareness Week

7 –      International Family Equality Day

8 –      Bank Holiday UK (King’s Coronation)

World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day

8-14 – Coeliac UK Awareness Week

8-14 – Mental Health Awareness Week

15 –    International Day of Families

17 –    International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

18 –    Global Accessibility Awareness Day

21 –    World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

22 –    International Day for Biological Diversity

24 –    Pansexual Visibility Day

29 -     Bank Holiday UK (Spring Bank Holiday)

Rare Language Fact File: Spokane

Native to: Northwestern USA

Number of native speakers: approximately 64

Spoken by: The Spokane Nation

Learn some: ʔa x̣est skʷekʷst (pronounced ‘ahh khest skwekst’) means ‘good morning’. For more, including audio, go to

Interesting facts:

  • Spokane is the name given to a group of indigenous American tribes from this part of the country. It is commonly believed that the word ‘spokane’ means ‘children of the sun’. However, this is not exactly correct: Spokane was the name given to these tribes by white colonisers and is not used by indigenous people to refer to themselves. It seems that, while the word can mean sun, the name is simply a rendering of an 19th century tribal chief’s name into English.
  • We often think of indigenous Americans as nomads, and during the summer they did camp in the mountains, hunting and gathering food. But the Spokane Nation had permanent, underground homes along the Spokane River for the cold winter months.
  • The 19th century Gold Rush brought an influx of white settlers to the area, and in the scramble for land, many important religious and cultural sites were flooded, dug up or built upon. The Spokane people suffered the same fate as many other tribes, ending up on reservations where poverty and its attendant social problems were rife. The Nation was awarded a small amount of compensation by the US government in 1966 and again in 1981.

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: 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

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

#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