A merchant seaman from Libya and a former medical supplies executive from Yorkshire are playing a key part in helping a language services business develop its translation and interpretation capabilities.
Mansour Saleh and Tony Allen are joined by colleagues from nations including Poland, Romania, China and Syria as members of an interpreters’ forum set up by AA Global to connect more closely with the company’s 1,000 linguists in the Hull area.
By providing a link between patients and health professionals including doctors and dentists the interpreters help to ensure NHS front line services run smoothly. By feeding back to their colleagues and employers at AA Global, they help the company improve its services to other public sector organisations and a large number of private sector clients.
Kiran Johnson, Projects Consultant at AA Global, said: “We realised there is a lot of intelligence among our interpreters that we don’t know about. We were getting feedback from clients but not from the interpreters themselves, what their thoughts are about working on the front line.
“The forum brings together some of our most engaged interpreters to help us raise standards and to get the word out among communities that we can provide opportunities for people to use their skills.”
Mansour has lived in Hull most of his life and works for AA Global when he is not at sea. He has been with the company for more than two years and his wife, Mabruka El Herri has also joined.
Mansour said: “We speak Arabic and English and we help people when they have appointments with doctors and dentists. We enjoy the forum because it is good to know what other interpreters are doing and to hear about their experiences. It helps us to improve what we do and that helps the company.”
Tony gained a degree in modern languages in the 1970s and kept his Spanish and German skills going during a career with businesses involved in supplying medical devices for the NHS and in the packaging sector.
He said: “The forum is good for networking – as freelances we don’t often have a chance to meet. You might bump into a colleague in a doctor’s reception area but that’s all. All the work is in health – helping people to understand their treatment and helping to make sure appointments go quickly and smoothly with no delays from misunderstandings.”
AA Global was founded in Worcester by Kirk Akdemir, the CEO, in 1992 and expanded to Hull in 2011 to serve its growing public and private sector client base in the north of England. The company now has around 14,000 translators and interpreters worldwide and covers about 500 languages and dialects. Hull became the head office last year after relocation to new premises which also provided space to develop training courses.
Kiran said: “The feedback helps us develop the induction programme for new staff and the ongoing training for existing staff. We cover things like presentation and appearance and also terminology – whether our interpreters are working on a contract with the NHS or in industry we make sure they know the language of the sector.
“They are all highly educated people whose qualifications don’t necessarily translate to this country. Most of them have been here for many years and remember the difficulties they faced when they arrived. They appreciate the chance to use their skills and qualifications to help people who are in a similar situation now.”
[Phil Ascough – Ascough Associates]