Working with Interpreters to Safeguard Children


This page provides some basic information in relation to good practice when using interpreters in safeguarding meetings and direct work.


Effective safeguarding is depends on communication.  For professionals and volunteers working in Redbridge, you may find yourself supporting children and families where there is no common or shared language between you.  People who require interpreters report facing barriers when accessing services and both national and local case reviews reference the importance of breaking down those barriers to keep children safe.    The use of interpreting services can support effective communication and help professionals and volunteers in their work with children and families.  Effective interpreting is linked to equality and empowering service users and is key to anti-discriminator and anti-oppressive practice.

Different agencies in Redbridge will commission independent translation and interpretation services so it is important that you know how to access this in your organisation.


There some important points when using interpreters.

Before the meeting or conversation, ensure that sufficient time is scheduled, identify in advance any particular terms you will need to use so that the interpreter is equipped to be able to explain there meaning, set boundaries and expectations so that they translate everything, and consider the emotional and mental impact on the child, family and translator.

During the meeting or conversation, ensure that you make eye contact and speak directly with the child or family member in the first person, speak slowly and use concise sentences, asking one question at a time, get feedback from the child and family member to ensure they have understood and be aware of cultural difference that might impact e.g. body language.

After the meeting or conversation, check back with the interpreter in relation to any impact the meeting may have had on theme, particularly if the meeting was emotive.  As you continue to work with the child and their family, continue to the use of interpretation.  Never use a child or another family member as an interpreter.  Interpretation is a skill that has to be learnt and needs to be independent.


If you work for the LB Redbridge, you can find more about the service used by the Council here.