A GROUP of locally recruited linguists have become the first people in Worcestershire to qualify as community interpreters.

The professional qualification, accredited by the Open College Network, means that the linguists’ specialist language services can be called on by public sector agencies, including the emergency services and council housing teams.

On Saturday, May 21, the 13 members of Worcestershire’s local migrant community celebrated their achievement as Councillor Audrey Steel, Wychavon’s executive board member for localism, presented them with certificates.

The ten-week long training course that led to community interpreter status was organised by Tomasz Piotrowski, Worcestershire Migration and Integration in Rural Areas (MIRA) Coordinator. The aim was to support the provision of language services across Worcestershire.

The course was delivered by Knockhundred Translations Ltd and was paid for entirely from the Migration Impacts Fund.

Tom Piotrowski, MIRA Coordinator, said: “This is a really innovative scheme and one of only a handful throughout the country. The aim is to recruit speakers of eastern European languages and to train them to a high professional standard so that they can provide language services such as interpreting and translation to local public sector agencies.

Using local linguists will be very cost-effective – they will be more readily available, and they also have a close understanding of local communities and the issues residents face.

Following the ceremony a new group of candidates from various communities across Worcestershire, speaking several different languages, started their own training programme. They are set to complete their training and gain community interpreter status in July.