A day in the life of an interpreter...

  • 06/01/2016
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  • Admin

At Vandu we got the pleasure of speaking to one of our interpreters, here she gives us a fascinating insight in the day to day life of an interpreter…

My name is Hiam and I have been an interpreter for two years. I first started interpreting as a volunteer to help people from my community. There was an introduction day for an interpreting course held at the Vandu office, this is where I first met the team and was keen to work with Vandu. Since then I haven’t looked back. It is immensely rewarding knowing that you are giving people a voice and enabling all members of society to be heard when it matters the most.

I usually start my day at 8am every morning by taking my 9 year old son and granddaughter to school. After that, I come back home and complete any tasks that need to be done.

My phone is always near me so Vandu are able to contact me at any time during the day or night to attend an assignment. This means I always have to be prepared and ready if I am needed. If Vandu don't contact me, I carry on with my normal life. I enjoy going shopping with my daughters and granddaughter and visiting friends to drink coffee where we can catch up.

As an interpreter I have to perform high quality, accurate work .To achieve this I should be impartial, patient and a good listener. This is because not only am I interpreting but I also have to take into account the language barrier between the client and service provider, there is often a culture difference between living abroad and living in the UK.

Being an interpreter is a very stimulating job, however I am a mother of four children, (three grown up daughters and one younger son) and a grandmother, which means that I am very busy in my personal life and have many responsibilities. On the other hand, I am always able to balance between family and work life.

We have a big Coptic Christian community here in Brighton so when we all meet together, I talk to my peers about being an interpreter and how it has changed my life.

Through my work with Vandu, I have learnt a lot of things including; good communication skills, trust and respect. As a very outgoing person, I love adventures and pushing myself to new limits because I believe life is a big school and we can all learn a lot from it.


To book an interpreter call 01273 473986 for your free quote.

Vandu Language Services is based in Lewes, Sussex and has been helping organisations overcome the language barrier since 1999. We provide interpreting, translation, bilingual advocacy and cross cultural training for when you need to communicate clearly across cultures.



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What a year it has been

  • 30/12/2015
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  • Admin

As we mark the end of 2015 and begin to look at what lies ahead in 2016, its time to take a look back at the journey so far.

At the beginning of this year we entered a formal partnership with POhWER. This would ensure that all communities in East Sussex were able to receive professional support, enabling them to have a voice and speak out about their wishes and needs. So far this union has been able to benefit vulnerable people living all across East Sussex.  

We now have more fully qualified interpreters than ever, in over 100 different languages. Thanks to Dominique MacNeill who has led both the community interpreting course and the conversion course. The 10 week community interpreting course  trained bilingual individuals to become freelance professionals. Whereas the conversion course, tailored for advocates who want to gain the Level 3 accreditation in Community Interpreting, was a great opportunity for those who participated to become more versatile in their skills.

DRI, Vandu’s sister organisation, also introduced its Acquiring Skills for the Workplace program. This employability course included real life work experience, interview skills and  an accredited qualification on completion of the course. The course was hugely successful and great experience for participants with many securing a new job from the program.

We also had to make room in the office as the team grew this year. Whilst we welcomed two new apprentices; Amy and Poppy, former apprentice Fletcher became our translations co-ordinator. Amy oversees the bookings desk whilst Poppy manages the Social Media and Digital Marketing. The apprenticeship means they receive external training whilst learning new skills and gaining experience in the office day to day.

Ze Zook, Digital Marketing lecturer at the London Metropolitan University has also joined Vandu. The office have been working closely with Ze to optimise the marketing strategy whilst gaining valuable knowledge and experience.

One of the highlights of the year was Vandu marking 16 years of business. The event, which was held on the 28th of November at Eastbourne town hall, was an achievement for all those involved. The room buzzed with debates, matching names to a face and networking between associates, it was a memorable occasion and a great success.

Overall Vandu has presented lots of new opportunities for itself and others this year. Through the benefits of training, collaborations and engaging with its clients and freelance professionals it has been a year that has pushed people to fulfil their potential within and outside the office.

All of us here at Vandu wish you a very Happy New Year and look forward to working with you in 2016.













Vandu Language Services is based in Lewes, Sussex and has been helping organisations overcome the language barrier since 1999. We provide interpreting, translation, bilingual advocacy and cross cultural training for when you need to communicate clearly across cultures.


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Happy holidays from Vandu!

  • 15/12/2015
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  • Admin

As Holiday season is full in swing, you may be sipping mulled wine by the fire and eating mince pies but let’s take a look at some other popular traditions around the world

Holland, Dutch children in Holland, eagerly await the arrival of Sinterklaas on December 6, St Nicholas day. Sinterklaas is a kind bishop, who traditionally wears a red robe and a tall pointed hat. Families celebrate St. Nicholas Eve at home with lots of good food, hot chocolate and a letterbanket, a "letter cake" made in the shape of the first letter of the family's last name.

Australia, December the 25th falls during summer vacation, so many of the country's Christmas festivities take place outdoors. Most people now have a cold Christmas dinner, or even a barbecue with seafood such as prawns and lobsters. The most popular event of the Christmas season is called Carols by Candlelight, this event brings everyone together.

Poland, 12 dishes are prepared representing the next 12 months of the year which are meant to bring you good luck. The meal is traditionally meat free, this is to remember the animals who took care of baby Jesus in the manger. It is custom that everyone has to eat or at least try some of each dish. For Catholics the 12 dishes symbolise Jesus's 12 disciples.

Philippines, there is a special tradition of having a Christmas lantern, which is called ‘paról’; the lantern is star-shaped, remembering the star of Bethlehem and mainly made out of bamboo and paper.

Yugoslavia, it is believed that if the Yule Log flame goes out, it is a symbol of bad luck. A member of the family is elected to stand guard over it during the night.

Hong Kong, people send Christmas cards, many of which are home made using Chinese craft techniques. Winterfest is also famous for its New Year's countdown and displays of lights and fireworks all over the city. These large displays light up all the skyscrapers and buildings.

Oman, the only country beginning with the letter O, family elders distribute sweets and cookies to the entire family.

Lithuania, the meal starts when the first stars can be seen in the night sky. If it's cloudy, the 'head of the house' decides when the meal will start. Sometimes an apple is cut into as many people at the meal and is shared, this remembers the apple eaten in the Garden of Eden.

Italy, a nativity scene called a ‘presepe’, is usually put up in churches, town squares and houses, it is for many the most important part of Christmas decorations. 

Denmark, most people attend a Church Service on Christmas Eve late afternoon to hear the Christmas Story. It's also traditional to give animals a treat on Christmas Eve, so some people go for a walk in the park or woods and take food to give the animals and birds.

Argentina, houses are beautifully decorated with lights and wreaths of green, gold, red and white flowers whist red and white garlands are hung on the doors of houses. The Christmas Eve night tradition is to light 'globos' (paper decorations) that float into the night, the sky is filled with them on Christmas Eve after midnight.

Yemen, on Christmas Eve there is an all-night service that features worship, a bonfire, carolling and blessings from the Bishop.

S pain, 12 grapes are eaten within the 12 strokes of the clock at Midnight on New Year’s Eve! Each grape represents a month of the coming year, so if you eat the twelve grapes, you are said to be lucky in the New Year.

                                                                           We wish all our freelance professionals, customers and friends a very happy holidays!          



Vandu Language Services is based in Lewes, Sussex and has been helping organisations overcome the language barrier since 1999. We provide interpreting, translation, bilingual advocacy and cross cultural training for when you need to communicate clearly across cultures.





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Celebrating 16 years of Vandu!

  • 08/12/2015
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Vandu associate conference 2015


On Saturday the 28th of November Vandu hosted its annual conference at Eastbourne town hall; marking 16 years of Mebrak’s hard work, determination and passion towards Vandu. With a great turnout, full of our freelance professionals and guest speakers, it was going to be a day to remember.

Once everyone had taken a seat the event was opened by Jean Gould, a Community Care Lawyer who spoke about tough case studies during her role. Discussing real life stories about those who face challenges on a daily basis struck a chord, empowering the audience to recognise and understand the rights of individuals they are potentially interpreting for. If they then felt more support was required, it would be their responsibility to refer them to a bilingual advocate who would then deal with the case.

 Formally welcoming everyone to the event, Mebrak then thanked everyone for their support and dedication to Vandu over the years. Particularly expressing how we should be collaborating as a community to achieve greater influential results.

This was followed by Nadege Richard, a French speaking volunteer who has recently worked in Calais at the refugee camps. Expressing her thoughts and feelings from her recent trip to ‘The Jungle’ sparked great debate on the topic and plenty of audience participation. You could see the compassion and humanisation from everyone in the room, showcasing the business’ core values and ethics and why Mebrak set up Vandu 16 years ago.                            

‘I thoroughly enjoyed listening to our associates’ opinions on the topics that were being discussed and it was great to see everyone interacting with each other.’ – Olivia, Vandu service manager

A short coffee break allowed everyone the chance to network. It gave the interpreters a chance to find common ground with one another, discuss their jobs and bond over differences and similarities in their day to day routines.

‘It was lovely to see so many interpreters at the conference, to finally meet face to face and to listen to the speakers at the conference.’- Amy, Administration co-ordinator

The break also gave everyone a chance to look at the vibrant displays put in place, from promoting race equality and mental health services to a stool selling Aloe Vera based skin care and beauty products, which had a prize draw giving anyone who signed up the chance to win a selection of the goodies.

Mebrak then continued discussing Vandu’s successes, improvements and future goals. With everyone in one place and keen to tackle any issues, Mebrak opened her questions up to the audience who got the freedom to raise any concerns or ideas they had about the business.

The BSL (British Sign Language) community told their own story. When a new company threatened to cut their wages, through the help and power of social media and a sense of camaraderie, they managed to overrule this decision. Not only was this a victory in a sense that the BSL interpreters won their basic rights but a leading positive came from this in the form of a Union.

In further conversation with a BSL member who fought for this campaign they said, ‘A couple of freelancers started this because they were fed up of the squeeze and threat to our terms and conditions. Now approximately 30% of freelance interpreters are members of the NUBSLI (National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters) they are making a difference.’

All of the freelance professionals were inspired to set up their own Union; this would allow them the opportunity to discuss any issues, stick together in the event of any injustice, all the while creating an active social group.

Again, lunch was a great opportunity to move around. Delicious homemade falafels and humus were enjoyed, whilst the room buzzed with collaborations, idea sharing and everyone gaining new contacts.

Ze Zook, a Digital Marketing lecturer at the London Metropolitan University gave the final presentation of the day. It highlighted the powers of marketing and how a business can maximise its potential by using a variety of social platforms, employee collaboration and the correct marketing strategy for the business. Ultimately giving confidence and guidance to those who are unfamiliar with social media to try it for themselves.

As the day drew to a close it was time to reflect on the day’s events. Everyone came away with a re found confidence,proud knowing that what they were achieving was having a massively positive impact on their profession.

“It’s great that so many thought-provoking topics were covered at the event, however for me personally I saw it as a morale booster for us and our associates. It’s reassuring to be updated on what’s going on and how everyone can be involved”- Fletcher Davies Translation Coordinator


“Inspiring speakers, great interaction from the audience and good food!”- Alejandra                    Gonzalez












(Top left; Ahsan, Mebrak and Olivia, top right; Jean Gould)

(Bottom right; Ze Zook, bottom right; Interpreter group picture)


 Vandu Language Services is based in Lewes, Sussex and has been helping organisations overcome the language barrier since 1999. We provide interpreting, translation, bilingual advocacy and cross cultural training for when you need to communicate clearly across cultures.




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Top tips to ensure you get a quality interpreting session

  • 04/12/2015
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  • Admin

At Vandu we know how important it is to our clients to provide professional, efficient and reliable interpreters. This gave us the idea to compile some tops tips to ensure you get a leading experience from us.

1. When interpreting its key to ensure you acquire a trained professional and not just a native speaker. Choosing to book through Vandu you are assured that each of our interpreters are fully qualified and have the knowledge and expertise to be versatile in any given situation.

2.Make your booking as far in advance as possible. This means we have a greater chance of securing you an interpreter.. If we are unable to fulfil your requirements we will always offer you telephone interpreting, which is a popular alternative due to its quick and  efficient nature.  It is ideal for on demand and emergency circumstances.

3.Legal, health, social care? What is the nature of the meeting? If you can give us some insight, the interpreter will then have the opportunity to research key vocabulary in order to prepare themselves for the assignment.

4.Finally some languages have multiple dialects, let us know which one you require!

To book an interpreter or to request a quote please contact 01273 473986


Vandu Language Services is based in Lewes, Sussex and has been helping organisations overcome the language barrier since 1999. We provide interpreting, translation, bilingual advocacy and cross cultural training for when you need to communicate clearly across cultures.



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