Volunteer Community Interpreters

One way our volunteers are helping Ukrainians in Buckinghamshire is as Volunteer Community Interpreters.

Earlier this year, after Russia invaded Ukraine and the arrival of many Ukrainians in Buckinghamshire, Community Impact Bucks set up a new initiative to provide Volunteer Community Interpreters.

We have recruited volunteers from across the county who are fluent in Ukrainian and/or Russian as well as English, and they have been helping overcome the language barrier as newly arrived Ukrainian people settle into their new communities.

Here are stories about just two of our volunteer interpreters:

Inna’s story

Inna (pictured) was born in Ukraine and lived in Russia before coming to the UK in February 2022 with her British husband. Her husband heard about the Volunteer Community Interpreter role and asked her if she’d be interested – something Inna was keen to do as a Ukrainian, Russian and English speaker and knowing she could help Ukrainian refugees integrate into the local community.

How she has helped

So far, her assignments have been both in person in a group social setting and remotely, acting as an interpreter in online meetings.

Inna’s own background means that she can help overcome the language barrier but she also understands the cultural differences between life in Buckinghamshire and life in Ukraine, and this is an important element in helping people of both nationalities understand each other.

At first Inna found interpreting very tiring: it was something she had never done before. However she is finding it easier now and is glad that she can help Ukrainian people who are so far from home and family.

Yulia’s story

Yulia was born in Russia and lived for many years in Canada before coming to the UK to study at Buckingham University.  It was through the University that she found out about the Volunteer Community Interpreter role – they sent out a message to all students asking them to consider volunteering if they had the right language skills.

How she has helped

Yulia has so far completed a series of assignments at a primary school, interpreting between teaching staff and a newly arrived Ukrainian pupil who was having trouble settling into UK school life. These were special sessions that the school set up, outside lessons, to help the pupil settle and feel less anxious about her new school experience.

This was the first time Yulia had acted as an interpreter and she appreciated that her first assignment would be with a child who would use less complex language than an adult. Yulia found the whole experience rewarding and is looking forward to taking on more interpreting.

Reaction from the school

The school really appreciated Yulia’s help, saying: “Having literally searched everywhere for some support for a young Ukrainian girl who joined our school, we were so relieved to find The Volunteer Community Interpreters. Within a week they provided us with a delightful interpreter who quickly became an integral, and much anticipated, part of the young girl’s week. It was lovely to watch her tears change into laughter as the sessions progressed.”

Could you help?

If you can speak Ukrainian and-or Russian and would like to volunteer as a Community Interpreter, please fill in our online Registration Form, mentioning your language skills.

If you would like to request the services of a Volunteer Community Interpreter, please fill in the online Request for a Volunteer Interpreter form.

Updated on January 9, 2023

Image courtesy of St Francis's Children Society