The Linguist

The Linguist 57,4 - August/September 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 14 of 35

FEATURES @Linguist_CIOL well," explains Managing Director Liz Weatherhill. "It was also an opportunity to give something back by reinvesting our profits and doing a range of charitable work." In 2010, as the new Government began making big changes to the NHS, she put together a proposal to take the service out of public ownership under the 'right to request' policy, which encouraged public sector managers to set up their services as social enterprises. When Enable2 was established in 2011, Weatherhill went from managing a service to running an entire business. "It was quite a shock! Instead of using the NHS HR, finance and payroll services, we had to develop our own." She enrolled on programmes with the Department of Health, Institute of Directors and Goldman Sachs 10KSB, and has come to enjoy the freedom offered by the company structure. "In the NHS, if you want to buy something or do something different, you've got to go through a process to get approval, whereas we're self-sufficient, we report to a board but we're autonomous." Enable2 works with more than 500 interpreters in around 140 languages, delivering face to face, video and telephone interpreting. Unsurprisingly, it continues to specialise in health, but now has NHS clients across the country, as well as other public sector and third-sector organisations. Their charitable programme reflects this, with recent activities including an 'Enable2 Be Healthy' campaign to help patients reduce their blood-sugar levels, and a school initiative encouraging children and parents to exercise and eat healthily. Although the bottom line for potential clients will always be rates, there are benefits to operating as a community- interest company when it comes to securing work. "Some social enterprises and voluntary organisations choose to use third-sector providers, and that is where we have the edge," explains Lee. Indeed, the Social Value Act 2011 requires public sector organisations to take potential contractors' social responsibility into consideration. This may go some way to explaining why 54% of social enterprises do business with the public sector. The growth rate of social enterprises is higher than average, with 47% growing their turnover in 2016-17 compared with 34% of SMEs, according to SEUK. So why have relatively few interpreting companies adopted this model? For Lee, it is partly due to a lack of awareness. "If people have not had enough exposure to the idea, it's not something that would necessarily enter the equation when they're thinking about starting a business. Because I was already working in the sector, I was in the know and was able to make a very informed decision from the start." And, of course, the desire to make profits is also a factor. "There are people who work in business for their own gain, and there's nothing wrong with that, but there are others who choose not to work that way, and I am one of them," she adds. There is the additional challenge of changing client perceptions, as some assume that a not- for-profit will offer a poorer quality of service, says Macinnes. "This is absolutely not the case: we pride ourselves on quality of service, and tend to find that, because our interpreters are freelance, they work for the larger interpreting agencies as well." This commitment to quality, coupled with the charitable work of interpreting social enterprises, has benefits for the interpreting profession as a whole, concludes Weatherhill. "In recent years, there's been a lot of criticism of interpreting organisations, which has negatively impacted on the reputation of the entire profession; the social enterprise model is a good way of doing business – it's fair to everyone – and I'd like to think it might change perceptions of the interpreting profession." With a "happy workforce" to boot, this certainly could be the future of (interpreting) business. QUALITY SERVICE An Enable2 interpreter with a client (main image); and in training (below). The social enterprise specialises in public service interpreting, particularly in health

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Linguist - The Linguist 57,4 - August/September 2018