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National success for Gateshead interpreters and translators

Posted on Monday 4 December 2017

An interpreting, training and translating service based in Gateshead has won a national award for linguists, with one of its students gaining the highest exam marks in the UK.

Bridge Interpreting, Translating and Training Services, is a Community Interest Company which was set up in 2011 to address a serious shortage of qualified and professional linguists in the region.

Now it has been awarded the Nuffield Trophy by the Chartered Institute of Linguists for the Best Entry Group for the Level 6 Diploma in Public Service Interpreting. One of its distance-learning students also received the highest marks in the whole of the UK.

Back in 2010, Lynn Wilson, one of the two Directors at Bridge, contacted Gateshead Council’s Economic and Housing Growth Service looking for support to start a social enterprise. The support provided by the council helped develop their business plan and they set up as a Community Interest Company in 2011.

Bridge was based and supported in the council’s Gateshead International Business Centre for over five years until it moved to larger premises in Gateshead’s Interchange Centre this year. 

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.

Over the years Bridge has trained over 500 learners, in the UK and abroad, to become professional linguists.

Bridge also offers interpreting and translation services to a range of public services including the NHS, the Ministry of Justice, Immigration, Social Care and Education services and many local charities.

As a Community Interest Company, Bridge 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.

Says Lynn Wilson: “Among its learners and linguists, Bridge counts some highly qualified professionals from all over the world, who have a wealth of experience in their field, but who struggled to get their skills transferred and recognised in this country.

“We’ve been able to help many Gateshead residents move from Job Seeker’s Allowance to full-time employment and inspired many new careers.”

Bridge has also recently started working on a project with Gateshead Council to provide Syrian families with the necessary English language skills and cultural knowledge to gain stable employment and settle in the UK.

Says Councillor John Adams, Cabinet Member for Economy at Gateshead Council:

”It’s important for the council to be supporting local businesses. I’m delighted that we’ve been able to support Bridge and great to now see it go from strength to strength, providing valuable services to our communities.

“Awards like this one are a great way of acknowledging Bridge’s contribution to Gateshead and also celebrating the achievements of local people”.

Julie Pages, Bridge Director alongside Lynn Wilson said: “This award is an enormous achievement in recognition of all the hard work from our team and students and we are delighted to have received this prize”.