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29 October 2014
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Title - Multi-ethnic Norfolk

New service smashes the language barrier
Intran launch.
Cutting the cake at the official Intran launch

Help is at hand for people in Norfolk who are cut off from vital services because they simply cannot make themselves understood.

Thanks to a new translation and interpretation service, people who are deaf or who do not have English as their first language will finally be heard.

Intran is funded by Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Health Authority, all Primary Care Groups and Trusts in Norfolk, Norfolk Police, Norfolk Probation Service and King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council.

Valerie Gidney.
Valerie Gidney

At the launch development manager Valerie Gidney explained how it all started: "In 1998 people from public services started to think that there was a big problem with communication for foreign people and deaf people.

"The users had themselves been put in tremendous difficult situations because they couldn't communicate. So, they decided to identify a need in Norfolk by carrying out extensive research, and its all coming to place now.

"They really believe that because we have identified 58 languages spoken in Norfolk, a lot of them being people spread all over Norfolk, and that 7% of the population in the UK having hearing impairment, they've decided to invest in this project. It's been absolutely fabulous to see how much the public services providers, who have been involved worked hard to make it happen today."

Jo Hunns
Jo Hunns, a West Norfolk Service Provider

Outreach worker Jo Hunns says that when people come to her, they usually have enough vocabulary to say they need help, but they are not able to explain their actual needs or the reasons for them.

Jo thinks this project will make a tremendous difference. "By the time they see me they are usually very frustrated, they've usually gone round the block twice over by the time they get to me. They’ve been sent to different departments, nobody usually gives them the opportunity to explain in their language what it is they need, and they'll just point to another direction. By the time they get to me, they're either close to tears or very angry."

Deaf ConneXions, a Norfolk-based service offers signing and communications assistance for people who are deaf. Geoff Wadham knows at first hand how difficult it can be communicating clearly what the problems are. He says he knows the English language, but finds it hard to understand because of the lip reading problem.

Jean Yves de Blasiis
Canary footballer Jean Yves de Blasiis

Norwich City footballer Jean Yves de Blasiis had communication problems when he first joined the club. "When I first moved to Norfolk - although Norwich City Football Club were very helpful - it was difficult find a house and dealing with all the administration - registering with a doctor, getting your telephone and other services connected," he said.

"I think a service like this is very helpful to anyone who lives and works in Norfolk whose first language is not English. I am very pleased to help bring it to the attention of everyone in the county, because I think it is very necessary."

Joan Fowler, councillor and Portfolio Holder for Social Inclusion and Care at Norfolk County Council said: "This is a great day for Norfolk because equality of access to our services is essential and by making members of the Ethnic Minorities and Deaf people less isolated, it will make their life easier."

Valerie Gidney says that now the service has been launched, she would like to see it happen in practice.

"I want the users the themselves to ask whenever they feel they cannot communicate and they use a public service. ‘They're asking I need an interpretator, I want an appointment with interpretator can you do that for me.’ And I want this to be happening all over Norfolk, for any sort of public service."

See also:
Norfolk's Racial
Equality Council

Eradicating racism
World Voices
Other features

Internet links:
Commission for Racial Equality
Black Britain
BBC Asian Network
BBC Asian Life
BBC World Service
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