Language can form a very real barrier between different communities. Without English, trying to access essential or other services can be a daunting exercise. The Translating & Interpreting Service (TIS) is a confidential translation and interpreting service that can help bridge the communication gap between you and your clients. We cater for a range of agencies, among them community health and local authority centres, as well as voluntary and other community groups. This brief guide below explains what you can expect from us and what you should do to ensure our interpreters can work effectively.

Guidelines for Service Provider Users

Booking an interpreter
You can call to make a booking during normal office hours (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday). Our bookings are usually made ONLINE using our Web-Booking system or you can click on
Book Online at any time. Alternatively, you can call us on 020 8591 0050 or an email at Please give us at least 24 hours depending on your client's notice. The more notice you can give, the easier it is for us to arrange a specifically requested male or female interpreter. You can also ask for the same interpreter for follow-up sessions, i.e. mental health/counselling sessions. All sessions should be booked for between 7am and 8pm (including weekends) and these need to be booked through the TIS office during the weekday opening hours and not with individual interpreters.

When booking please ensure the provided details are correct; the clients full name, the time, language/dialect and venue/meeting place address (including postcode) before contacting us.You will be advised of the booking reference number by the person you contact in the interpreting service.

Briefing the interpreter
The interpreter will aim to help your client get the best possible service, while helping you operate professionally and effectively.

Some guidance on languages and culture
Before booking an interpreter, you should ascertain your client's or service user's language and clearly mark this on their record or relevant documents. Effective communication relies on more than the spoken word: cultural and personal factors play a role too. But beware of making false assumptions about your client, the interpreter or their culture. A reliance on stereotypes can cause offence. Interviewing through an interpreter is not always a straightforward process. The interpreter will rely on you to be patient and to provide a thorough brief. The brief should include any appropriate background information, as well as explanations of all the technical terms that may arise. However, where possible, you should try to use simple language and avoid jargon or specialist terminology. Circumstances permitting, a debriefing after the session is advisable.

During a session
As the person who booked the session, you control proceedings, but it is important to note that translating your words may not be a straight forward process. Even short and simple sentences can take longer in translation. Try to speak directly to your client and ensure that you are sitting facing both the interpreter and your client. Also, try to use the interpreter's knowledge or background and culture to create a rapport with your client. Good working relations can help overcome communication problems.

Your feedback
We aim to provide the best services, but we are always looking to make improvements. That is why we want your feedback, positive or critical.
Comments about the service in general or about an individual interpreter should be made in writing to the Service Director, 124 St Marys, Barking, Essex IG11 7TF.

Payment and contact details
The Interpreting Service pays it's interpreters directly. Please sign the interpreter's timesheet or pay claim at the end of the session to confirm their attendance.

Guidelines for Interpreters

  • Meet the client to establish expectations and help the client formulate requirements, where needed.
  • Interpret in the interview between the client and service provider to facilitate effective communication between client/patient and service provider staff across the barriers of language and culture.
  • Ensure the client's expressed needs have been addressed. 
  • Record any discriminatory behaviour on the part of the service provider and inform TIS if any further action or support is required.
  • Keep accurate records of work undertaken, prepare/submit regular reports to TIS and, when requested, give feedback to TIS for monitoring purposes.
  • Respect clients/patients confidentiality and not divulge any personal information without prior consent by the client/patient.
  • Arrive at the location on time allowing at least ten minutes before the appointment time.
  • Wait for the person you are meant to be working with (the officer) to arrive before introducing yourself; State the language you will be interpreting; State the client's name.
  • Make it clear to the officer and the client that the proceedings will be in the strictest confidence and that nothing will be divulged to any other third party; For the avoidance of doubt TIS is not to be regarded as any other third party. Use direct speech to avoid any confusion;
  • Do not hesitate to ask the officer/client if you have not understood a word/phrase or a jargon term and if necessary seek clarification.
  • Ask the officer/client to slow down if it is too fast for you to retain and interpret;
  • When dealing with benefits or other financial details take down notes; check their accuracy with the officer first then reveal it to the client.
  • At the end of the interview, verify with the officer/client that all the points have been covered and understood.
  • If you are related to a patient or a client or know them on a personal basis and a conflict of interest may arise, you should inform TIS.
  • Never leave your personal address or telephone number with the client, officer, reception or professional;
  • Never accept an assignment to visit or accompany a client without being accompanied by an officer yourself.
  • If you are unable to keep an appointment or some other emergency arises inform TIS immediately giving as much notice as you can. If outside TIS normal office hours you must leave a message on the TIS answer machine. On no occasion must you contact the Service user directly.

Dialect Information

When noting their language, please be clear on their exact language or dialect. For instance, Chinese is not an accurate description of a Cantonese or Mandarin speaker. Also Persian now known as Farsi language and spoken in Iran and Afghanistan but its important that you ask your client where they come from to get the right dialect as this will affect the choice of interpreter you make. For a list of languages spoken in each country of the world and the TIS Language card please click on the pdf files below:

Languages Spoken in Each Country of the World

Language Reference Card for Users

Latest News

Volunteering Opportunities at TIS!


Please note that from now on, all the staff Memos will be displayed on this page. We will not send hard copies of the Memo any longer unless specifically requested so by an individual.


"Some people who speak English may not understand how important it is for me and my family to have someone who can speak on our behalf for all the problems and the traumas we have gone though. I am very grateful to the Translating & Interpreting Service for all the help they give me".

Turkish speaking client

My wife and I live alone and do not speak English, which makes it very difficult to access some of the services available. Whenever I have any concerns or problems I go to TIS Offices where help is always available.

Albanian speaking client

I am so happy to know that every time I go to see my GP, dentist or attend my hospital appointments I am able to show them the TIS Language Identification Card which helps to get an interpreter for me.

Polish speaking client

Source: Health Advocate's client/session feedback report