The Language Shop

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by The Language Shop's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from The Language Shop is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Managing Director Jaimin Patel
An example of our video
interpreting service
Founded in 1988, The Language Shop is a social enterprise,
pioneering change and creating public sector partnerships
that defy budget cuts. A London-based language services
provider, the range of services offered include face-to-face
interpreting, telephone interpreting, British Sign Language
interpreting and document translation. The Language
Shop works with hundreds of linguists and is able to offer
interpreting in over 100 languages, including rare and regional
dialects from countries all over the world. Managing Director
The Language Shop is the exclusive provider of language services to some of
London’s biggest NHS trusts, clinical commissioning groups and London authorities.
With a public sector background and private sector outlook, we combine a
commitment to equality of access, with the drive and creativity to find best value
for our clients.
In addition to our community interpreting, we provide quality assurance services
to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). We are the first such service in the country and
we ensure that the MoJ’s language service suppliers are of the highest possible
standard, accurate and safe throughout the life of their contracts.
Our purpose
We are committed to enabling our clients to offer total equality in access to care,
a requirement set out by both the Accessible Information Standard 2016 and the
»Managing Director:
»Established in 1988
»Based in Newham, East
»No. of employees: 25
»Services: Language services for
organisations in London and
the surrounding areas
»Completed over 100,000
foreign language interpreting
requests and 5,000 British
Sign Language interpreting
requests in 2017
The Language Shop
Highlighting best practice
Equality Act 2010. Language is the
foundation for effective relationships
with service users and it is vital that
effective communication is established
in order to obtain comprehensive and
accurate information for treatment
plans, assessments and care plans.
Demographic change in the UK,
particularly within London, has led
to many professionals facing the
challenge of communicating with
service users who are unable to
speak English. We do not consider a
language barrier a reasonable obstacle
to effective care, and we aim to instil
this belief into our partners. The same
philosophy is applied to service users
who experience hearing difficulties/
deafness. We provide the resources
to ensure that organisations are able
to offer equal access to care to deaf
service users.
A community enterprise
Local community growth and
development is at the heart of our
objectives and we are proud to
contribute a significant amount to the
local economy – there are over 460
interpreters actively working in the
north and east London area. In the
financial year of 2017-18, we paid our
interpreters a collective amount of over
£1.4 million. We pay above London
Living Wage to all our interpreters
and we offer financial assistance to
local foreign language speakers who
wish to become interpreters. We are
proud to support them every step of
the way as they become qualified and
enter into employment. Moreover, our
interpreters work on a freelance basis,
enabling them to fit work around
commitments and leaving the amount
of work they wish to take on entirely
up to them. Through our online portal,
interpreters are free to accept as many
or as few jobs as they like and are safe
in the knowledge that they will be paid
a fair fee for all of them.
We ensure that we employ only the
most qualified foreign language and
British Sign Language interpreters.
Our foreign language interpreters all
possess a Community Interpreting
Level 3 course qualification or
equivalent, and our British Sign
Language interpreters are all NRPCD
registered. This ensures our customers
receive excellent service, and,
subsequently, the service user receives
the best possible care.
As technology advances, so do we.
We have developed a tailored video
interpreting platform for our customers
in order to offer British Sign Language
and foreign language interpreting
services remotely. This tackles a
number of challenges.
First, we are able to offer services
to remote areas outside of London
that suffer from lack of interpreter
availability, ensuring that organisations
are compliant and offering care
wherever they are based. Secondly, by
eradicating travel costs entirely, remote
video interpreting allows organisations
to save money on vital services. In the
age of austerity, this makes a huge
amount of difference and prevents any
reduction in quality of care.
Training linguists for
their CIL3 qualification
We are proud
to contribute
a significant
amount to the
local economy
»Face-to-face foreign
language interpreting
»Face-to-face British
Sign Language
»Deaf relay interpreting
»Telephone Interpreting
»BSL and FL video
»Document translation
»Audio transcription
»Braille/large print
»Easy Read conversion
support services
A new venture
In 2012, the Ministry of Justice
outsourced its language services to
Capita. After repeated accounts of
poor interpreting, aJustice Committee
reportin 2013 called the new system
“nothing short of shambolic”. Once
the contract had ended in 2016, the
MoJ recognised a need for quality
assurance and hired us to carry this
out and ensure agencies that provide
language services are up to industry
standard. Article 6 of the European
Convention on Human Rights
requires that an interpreter in criminal
proceedings be fully competent
for the task assigned – and we are
instrumental in ensuring that this
is the case in the UK. The number
of complaints received regarding
interpreting services has decreased by
95 per cent from 2013 to 2018, with
a 91 per cent reduction in complaints
regarding interpreter quality.
We have a number of different
responsibilities; these include
investigating complaints made to us
or the supplier about the quality of
its services, and we hold the official
register of linguists working across
the MoJ. We carry out audits of the
suppliers on an annual basis, as well as
customer satisfaction surveys to ensure
users are happy with the services they
receive. Perhaps our most significant
process is our random assessments of
linguists’ work. We refer to these as
“mystery shopping assessments” and
it involves our assessors evaluating
interpreting in person or after the
event, via recorded telephone
interpreting, or digitally recorded trials.
Any interpreters that do not meet the
required standards are taken off the
register and offered the chance to
retrain. The Language Shop provides
financial assistance for those who
choose to join the training programme,
with the aim of improving the overall
quality of the pool of linguists available
in the future.
The future
We have grown significantly in the last
two years, and we hope to continue
to grow our business within the
community, expanding our customer
base and setting an example of best
practice to other language services
providers. We will continue to be an
industry leader in quality assurance,
using our experience with the Ministry
of Justice to set a new standard of
accountability across both public and
private sector organisations. If we can
encourage organisations to understand
and act on their duty to provide
equality in access to vital services, we
will have achieved our goal.
We hope to
continue to
grow our
business within
the community,
expanding our
customer base
and setting an
example of best
practice to other
The Language Shop
operations team

This article was sponsored by The Language Shop. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister