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Paradigm Housing celebrates 'Happy to Translate' scheme

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Paradigm Housing celebrates 'Happy to Translate' scheme

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Published by Hannah Wooderson for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities

Paradigm Housing celebrates 'Happy to Translate' scheme Paradigm Housing celebrates 'Happy to Translate' scheme

Paradigm Housing has become the first company in England to adopt the ‘Happy to Translate toolkit’. To celebrate, we held a ‘sharing cultures’ event on June 10 at the Hillingdon Civic Centre.

The new Mayor of Hillingdon, Shirley Harper O’Neill, donned an elegant sari with the help of Sheena Singh, a support worker for Paradigm’s homelessness charity SOLO, and resident Medina Jeilani decorated guests’ hands with traditional Somali henna patterns.

Nothing illustrates the phrase ‘language barrier’ more clearly than when a customer needs help, but cannot make themselves understood in English. Paradigm staff have now been trained to use the Happy to Translate toolkit, which helps establish the language spoken by the resident and their question or problem. The toolkit includes pages of phrases in English and one of 60 languages. Pointing at flags to establish the language and then the appropriate phrases allows people to have a ‘conversation’.

Sometimes this will be enough to sort out the problem on the spot. If not, the member of staff can make an appointment with an interpreter and indicate the time and date of the appointment.

Happy to Translate is widely used in Scotland by housing associations, the local council, police, NHS Trusts and emergency services. Paradigm would like to encourage other agencies in England to use the system, so we invited member of the council, police, voluntary associations and community agencies and demonstrated the toolkit for them.

Hillingdon Councillor Jill Rhodes was very interested, having worked with diverse communities as a midwife in London and at Harefield Hospital. She said: “Sometimes you’re having to rely on a 10-year-old son to translate, and it’s not appropriate!”

Happy to Translate spokesman Rohini Joshi also gave the common example of someone going to the doctor and feeling it would be rude to keep asking for a clearer explanation, so they walk out worried and upset. She says: If we can grow to other organisations, so people in England can recognise the Happy to Translate logo and know they can get immediate help, that would be my dream.”

Happy to Translate is part of Paradigm’s Equality and Diversity Strategy. Paradigm Chief Executive Officer Alison Hadden talked about the huge contribution of immigrants communities to the UK, and said: “We want to provide good services to our customers whatever their language.”
 

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