Could you help crack the language barrier at Nottingham’s hospitals?

05 August 2016

Volunteers fluent in a second language are being sought by the interpreting and translation service at Nottingham's hospitals.

Every day patients with a wide range of language needs are treated at the Queen's Medical Centre and City Hospital - and assistance is often needed to help them communicate with healthcare professionals.

The interpreting and translating service at the hospitals offers assistance in over 50 different languages from Arabic to Russian - with much of the support provided by volunteers. The service provides face-to-face interpreting, telephone interpreting and written translation.

Renata Towlson from the interpreting and translating service said: "I am seeking volunteers interested in working in demanding clinical environments.

"As our patients speak so many languages, there are no particular limitations to our search.  If you are bilingual or perhaps even multi-lingual and would like to share your skill in the community, please come forward and make yourself a voice to somebody's need.  Whether you can commit five or 50 hours a month, we are keen to hear from you.

"There are many benefits of getting involved. It's an opportunity help ensure the language barrier is no longer a problem for a patient in accessing the right treatment at the right time. You will get a basic interpreting training and ongoing support, and we can also support you towards becoming a qualified community interpreter."

One person who has had a hugely rewarding experience volunteering as an interpreter at the hospitals is John Cipko, pictured above.

Born in Nottingham to Polish parents, John grew up speaking both English and Polish - and decided to start volunteering with the interpreting and translating service in 2014, having taken early retirement following a 32-year career with the NHS as a Biomedical Scientist.

In his first year in the role, John volunteered a total of 770 hours - and gained such a glowing reputation that he now has paid employment with the hospitals on a freelance contract.

He said: "When I decided to retire I wasn't sure what to do with my time. But someone suggested I could use my language skills to help people - and that's how I ended up getting involved with the interpreting and translation service.

"I really enjoy the work that I do. The satisfying thing is feeling like I've helped people, and getting thanked not just by the client but also the doctors and consultants. They often tell me that without my help they would have struggled to help the patient.

"If you're a young person looking to pursue a career in languages it's a great way to get experience; or if, like me, you've retired but still want to keep busy, it's a very fulfilling way to help others."

If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering with the hospitals' interpreting and translating service, please contact Renata Towlson on 0115 9691169 (extension 76146), or via email at Renata.towlson@nuh.nhs.uk

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