Working with the UK’s largest day centre for the homeless
The Passage is the United Kingdom’s largest voluntary Day Centre for the homeless. This Christian-based charity located in Victoria officially opened in March 2000 with the aim of supporting the vulnerable people of London out of homelessness. The centre aids up to 250 clients a day and its primary function is to provide for basic health, housing and education needs.
Emergency shelters and drop-in agencies like the Passage are reporting an increase in the use of their services by migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. A lack of English language proficiency has been cited as the most common problem facing them, resulting in difficulties finding work, accommodation and limiting access to public services. In order to counter these problematic language barriers, the Passage provides its clients with access to targeted support through bilingual advice.
To assist with the resettlement support and rehabilitation of its clients, the Passage uses Language Connect’s face-to-face interpreting services to correspond in the native languages of those who are unable to communicate in English. “It’s a challenge to deal with the increasing number of homeless clients who do not speak English – for example many from Eritrea only speak Tigrinya or Amharic. We use the services of Language Connect. Their interpreting service enables us to accurately assess and support our clients’ needs”, says Claire O’Driscoll, Deputy Team Leader of Assessment and Advice Team at the Passage.
Many of the Passage’s clients are from East Africa and the EU accession countries, therefore on a weekly basis Language Connect provides the centre with linguists conversant in Amharic, Tigrigna, Romanian, Latvian and Polish as well as other languages and dialects prevalent in these communities.
Our interpreters are empathetic and non-judgemental since they understand that a great majority of people who lose their homes do so as a result of a spiral that started in a personal situation that anyone of us could easily find ourselves in. The linguists consider how cultural differences are expressed through different communication styles such as decision making styles, attitudes towards disclosure and confidentiality, and issues of individuals or group rights. Therefore, they are qualified and trained to reflect accurately, ethically and impartially all that is being communicated.
Despite the decline in the number of rough sleepers in the capital over the past 10 years, homelessness is a national problem. Language Connect admires the work of the Passage Day Centre and their mission to provide the resources to assist homeless people to change their lives. Our interpreters continue to work collaboratively with the Passage in the hope of ending rough sleeping and ensuring the best possible options for homeless people in London and throughout the country.
Contact Rachel Hoy on 0207 940 8108, to arrange interpreting services for your organisation.
CLICK HERE to read a Case Study written by the Regional Language Network about Language Connect’s collaboration with the Passage Day Centre.