Bridge Interpreting Translating and Training Services, is a Community Interest Company based in Gateshead which was set up by interpreters for interpreters in early 2011 to address a serious shortage of qualified and professional linguists in the region.
Six years down the line, Bridge has made a difference in the North East by training over 500 learners, in the UK and abroad, to become professional linguists and has acquired a solid reputation as a training provider and translation/interpreting agency.
The two Directors, Lynn Wilson and Julie Pagès are relentless in their struggle to maintain high standards of interpreting and translation and their drive is merely the passion they have for languages, cultures and fostering respect of differences this world brings to us. This woman-led business could certainly not run without the hard-work of 4 employees who never seem to want to go home and are just as dedicated as their Directors.
The not-for profit organisation now offers a whole range of interpreting and translation qualifications, some which had never been available in the region before, via class based studies and distance-learning, including the Level 3 Certificate in Community Interpreting and an exam preparation course for the Level 6 Diploma in Public Service Interpreting. It has been an examination centre for the Institute of Linguists for the past 4 years and works in partnership with various awarding bodies.
Since its creation, Bridge has also widened its client portfolio and offers first-rate interpreting and translation services for a large array of public services including the NHS, the Ministry of Justice, Immigration, Social Services and Education services and also assists many local charity organisations in bridging the communication gap with their service-users.
Bridge has worked with Capita while they had the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) contract for interpreting and translation and is now one of the Big Word’s partners for MoJ and NHS bookings and works in very close partnership with the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIoL) and the International School of Linguists to train candidates to succeed in the CIoL and the TQUK Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI). This year, Bridge has been awarded the Nuffield Trophy by the CIoL for the Best Entry Group thanks to the results obtained by the DPSI candidates having taken the exams at this centre and one of their distance-learning candidates obtained the highest marks in the whole of the United Kingdom and has also been awarded a prize. The award ceremony was led by the CIoL’s patron His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent. This award has been received by Bridge as a valued accomplishment and the recognition of its students’ efforts who have dedicated months and months of study despite their busy family and work lives and surpassed themselves.
But Bridge is not just about interpreting and translation. As Community Interest Company it has a social aim and uses the profit generated by the services it offers to provide employment opportunities to those who have come from overseas and made the UK their home. Amongst its learners and linguists Bridge counts some highly qualified professionals from all over the world who hold PhDs and Master’s degrees and have a wealth of experience in their field, who yet struggled to get their skills transferred and recognised in this country. It has assisted many Gateshead resident moving from Job Seeker’s Allowance dependency to full-time employment and autonomy and has inspired many new careers. Bridge has trained adult education tutors and English as a foreign language tutors and has been used as a stepping stone to access desired vocations. Bridge has also recently started working on a project with Gateshead Council to provide the Syrian families who have been welcomed in the region following the government scheme, with the necessary English language skills and cultural knowledge to gain stable employment and settle in this country.
For some Bridge has even become an international family and a multicultural hub where they can make new friends, better themselves and will always find a helping hand. This has been particularly significant for Bridge’s interpreters who now feel they have a shoulder to lean on and familiar faces to help them get things off their chests as the reality of community interpreting can be just as challenging and brutal as life.
Bridge never sleeps and is already looking forward to the new opportunities and challenges 2018 will bring.