Written by Shannon Walker.

According to 2018 statistics, there are over 170,000 combined refugees and asylum seekers living within the united Kingdom. An individual may seek refuge or asylum from their own country when they find themselves and their families in some type of grave danger. Other countries may offer refuge to these people on a temporary or permanent basis, in the hope of minimalizing danger to life. Whilst the UK does its part to support migrants, refugees and asylum seekers only make up 0.26% of the UK population- this is minimal compared to countries like Turkey and Lebanon who are renowned for their work helping those seeking safety.

For those that find themselves seeking refuge and asylum in the UK, coming to a foreign country in haste may mean difficulties can arise. The most common challenge facing refugees and asylum seekers is that of language barriers; many if all migrants that enter the UK speak little to no English. There are a few essential instances where these languages barriers need to be tackled. Essential scenarios such as:

  • Medical appointments or other healthcare settings
  • Legal matters such as meetings with solicitors
  • Basic communication with refugee helpers
  • Permanent citizens looking for employment
  • Children entering schools

The most common way to manage these language barriers would be through the use of professional linguistic services.

Professional language interpreting

Most refugees and asylum seekers are likely to have no English-speaking friends or family to offer translation and interpretation support, so the next best option is to appoint professionals. There are two common types of interpretation that take place with refugees and asylum seekers; telephone and face-to-face interpreting- however, face-to-face is widely preferred in professional settings, but due to covid-19 restrictions telephone has been the norm. Nonetheless, both are highly effective in supporting those who are not intelligible with English.

When selecting an interpreter, there may be a few matters to consider before appointing somebody. Due to the sensitive nature of issues surrounding the individuals, it can be crucial to ensure the following needs are considered and met:

  • Consider one’s preference on gender or religious/ political background of the professional (whilst this may not be as vital in usual circumstances, it seems wise to understand why somebody seeking refuge may have these preferences)
  • Inform the individual of why you will be using an interpreter
  • Ensure the interpreter is trained to work in a sensitive environment

Once selected, the interpreter will be able to offer support accordingly by translating any speech or documents into an individual’s target language. This offers the person the best opportunity to gain inclusive and non-judgemental support when needed.

Final thoughts

It is vital that we assist refugees and asylum seekers in overcoming language barriers, this offers them the best opportunity to make the most of their time residing within the UK.

Should you require a professional interpreter or translator, visit Crystal Clear Translation for a quote.