Interpreters across the world usually work as freelancers which is a great way of fitting work around other commitments in their lives. The flexibility is a great positive, but there are obviously downsides for some of these workers.
In the current COVID-19 climate with its lockdown in various stages, and the separation that we are all experiencing, it can be especially lonely for these interpreters who are losing all face-to-face contact, and are not even considered to be a part of a larger team to include in Zoom meetings with many of the companies who they work with.
Prestige Network care about our linguists and we decided that it would be helpful to hold a Virtual Summit for them. In May, we invited several of our interpreters to a Zoom meeting where we hosted an environment where they could meet each other virtually, share ideas and tips and generally feel included as part of a wider team.
A common feeling among several of them who also work for other translation companies was that they felt increasingly isolated and abandoned by these organisations, especially as the face-to-face interpreting has taken a serious hit since lockdown began. Naturally this has had a major impact on their (self-employed) incomes, mental strain and sense of loss.
Hosting the meeting resulted in some useful suggestions for them, mutual support and some great feedback for us. We were able to open up some career opportunities, and pastoral care in the form of wellbeing courses and offloading stressful situations for our team.
We have been able to offer training on the new telephone interpreting app and video interpreting technologies where they have needed a little help to retrain and reskill in a slightly different area.
We’re planning another Virtual Summit this month, and aim to invite a different set of interpreters.
In the meantime, should any of our extended team feel the need for a chat with a colleague here, they know they can phone in.
It’s a two way thing with us, our interpreters are vital. We like to let them know that.