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How language barriers can affect the public sector and charities

How language barriers can affect the public sector and charities

Language barriers can be a significant obstacle for both charities and the public sector. As a result, understanding the cost and practicality of overcoming language barriers to ensure seamless conversations – anywhere in the world, with anyone – is essential.

It’s estimated that migrants contribute up to £4 billion per year to the UK economy, yet they often face difficulties in accessing public sector services, such as benefit schemes or child protection support. This is fundamentally a language issue: where a migrant’s knowledge of English can be limited, and those offering the services are often unable to communicate in the migrant’s primary or preferred language.

In these situations, translation services are incredibly important to bridge language barriers, ensuring equal opportunities and enabling seamless conversations. However, traditional language translation services – such as a third party translator or online tools – can be costly or prone to inaccuracies. They can also stunt natural conversations and prevent personal relationships from building.

Languages barriers affecting crises

According to recent immigration statistics, 15 million of today’s UK residents were born abroad. According to ONS data, net foreign migration will be responsible for around three-quarters of the UK’s population growth over the next 25 years.

The language challenges associated with people with English as a second language (EAL) moving to the UK are not new, but recent events have seen a rise in this number.

For instance, in response to the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, the UK government launched its ‘Homes for Ukraine’ programme, which has issued over 95,000 visas. By welcoming such a large quantity of refugees, with little opportunity to prepare, the UK’s communication resources are stretched even thinner, meaning many public sector and charitable services don’t have access to third party translators or other translation tools as quickly as they need it.

Communication complications with housing

When initially arriving in the UK, refugees and migrants can frequently require housing support. However, currently, it can take longer for housing organisations to meet demands of non-English speakers due to communication difficulties.

Palaver recently partnered with a housing association that manages over 36,000 social housing units in the north of England. Its customers and employees often come from diverse backgrounds, with a diverse range of needs, which allowed us to better understand the services they use and the limitations they face, particularly around language translation.

Many UK public sector organisations and charities are reliant on strong communication with local communities in order to carry out their duties effectively. However, it’s clear that language barriers present significant challenges for public sector organisations and charities. For example:

  • Asylum seekers must be able to communicate effectively with Home Office staff in order to submit their application forms.

  • Staff at child protection units may not understand the language spoken by a child victim of abuse or neglect.

  • Citizens applying for benefits or dealing with government departments may not have someone else there to translate for them – and relying on a third-party translator can be expensive.

With a wide range of cultures and backgrounds making up today’s UK population, communicating in English isn’t always possible, and with many languages needed to communicate successfully, traditional translation solutions can be too costly, slow and sometimes entirely unavailable to facilitate a seamless service.

That’s where Palaver can help.

Reducing costs of third-party translators with new technology

There’ll always be circumstances when we need to communicate with people who don’t speak our language – and the public sector is no exception.

Palaver’s instant and accurate – free to download – language translation app can reduce public sector spend on translation services, while streamlining conversations – in over 30 different languages.

Whether you’re offering services to diverse cultures across the UK with different primary languages, or volunteering for charitable organisations overseas, Palaver can facilitate seamless conversations – helping you to support others more effectively.

Overcome language barriers in the public sector with Palaver:

  • When communicating with refugees or asylum seekers with a different primary language to your own, Palaver can help you by translating conversations in real-time. They’ll speak into the app in their preferred language, and you’ll hear what they’re saying in your own language.

  • If you’re helping someone who’s seeking advice, you can ensure mutual understanding of complicated documents easily with Palaver’s instant image translation tool. Simply take a photo of the document they need to read and it will translate it for you into their chosen language.

Palaver is your portable language translation tool – helping you to break down language barriers and communicate seamlessly, wherever you are in the world, regardless of the language you’re using.

With over 30 different languages to choose from, let Palaver guide you – so you can equally support people from all around the world.