Monday 10th September 2012
Blanca Fernandez, Head of Macmillan Support Line, explains how Macmillan uses interpreters.
'I took a call from a Chinese lady today. She received a letter from her GP about cervical screening but couldn’t understand what the words meant. I contacted an interpreter who was able to translate the words “cervical” and “smear” for her. It was wonderful to hear the penny drop on the other end of the phone as this lady finally understood why she had been invited to attend her GP’s surgery. She was so grateful,’ Macmillan Support Line staff member.
Staff on the Macmillan Support Line provide emotional and practical support, and clinical information and welfare rights advice to people affected by cancer, including people whose first language isn’t English.
We have a service which provides interpreters with at least two years relevant experience in over 300 languages. On 95% of occasions, the service can connect us with an interpreter within three minutes. Interpreters support us in a range of situations, from simple to critical. Either way, the intervention of an interpreter can make a big difference as the testimonials from staff and callers show below.
One staff member says: ‘I received a call from an angry, volatile man who was threatening to commit suicide. During two long and difficult calls the interpreter remained calm and patient throughout. I was impressed by the ease with which she engaged him in conversation and the way she worked with me to defuse the situation.’
A caller reports: ‘I didn’t understand why my doctors were recommending my treatment and was going to refuse to have it as it sounded so frightening. But when you talked to me and took the time to explain so carefully, I was really reassured and understood why the treatment is so important.’
Email Blanca Fernandez, Head of Macmillan Support Line.