We spoke to Oliver Richardson, a field scientist for Thames Water, to ask why he chose terptree and why he has continued to use them for 15 years…
What were your requirements when you first engaged with us?
I was looking for interpreting services mainly to support me when I was on on-site visits, often in remote locations. When I first started working with terptree (which was in my previous role), the areas I was visiting also included the Isle of Wight, so it was crucial to find an agency that could provide interpreters who were willing to make that trip.
How did you discover terptree?
I discovered terptree when they first started about 15 years ago! They were recommended to me by another (local) deaf person when I began working in Southampton. She suggested that as they were local to me, they may be a good choice.
It worked out really well, and they were able to provide exactly the support I needed.
What function has terptree performed for your organisation?
Not only do they provide excellent interpreters, but they also help with logistical requirements.
To explain: my role involves working at some hazardous sites. Therefore you must have a good relationship with the organisation you’re working with, so they can make sure interpreters know what they need to do beforehand to prepare themselves to work in that environment.
When working on a field production site, there are really strict rules around feeling healthy in the days running up to the trip. There are also some equipment requirements too: like steel toe-capped footwear. Because I have terptree’s support, I don’t need to worry about any last-minute swaps
or changes like taking interpreters off-site due to illness or whether interpreters were equipped correctly—the team at terptree take care of that for me.
It’s such a huge relief not to worry about these things and to know the risks are being managed effectively. Getting this aspect right was critical when choosing which business to work with.
What benefits has this brought?
Having a team of people that take the time to understand your individual needs and requirements and who work hard to match the most appropriate interpreters to those requirements has been a huge benefit. When I’ve worked with other agencies, they have usually just found the first person who said ‘yes’ to the job! They haven’t considered the wider implications of being able to work with that person – or the kind of work you’re involved in. Not all people enjoy working in areas of scientific interest, so making sure the interpreters are interested in this area (or have the willingness to learn) is key. They also need to be happy about standing outside in the cold for up to four hours at a time. As to be honest, most of my site visits are out in the cold!
What is the ongoing role of the terptree in your work?
As and when required, terptree continues to provide interpreter support for me when I’m on-site – especially as they have the flexibility of helping me with last-minute requests.
For example, if we have a water quality failure, my role is to be out on site to investigate with a big group the next day. Having contact between key people and ways of working that get around those last-minute booking request hurdles before the office closes for the day is invaluable!
What would your advice be to others who might be considering using terptree?
I would advise getting to know the people in the terptree office and taking the time to express what you need—also, sharing as many details as you can about your role. If you can, you’re more likely to be matched to the most suitable interpreters for your needs. Those interpreters can then become regular, which is crucial for continuity, especially if you work in a technical area.
Would you recommend terptree and why?
I would recommend terptree to others because, unlike other agencies, terptree has created a business centred around the deaf person – it’s all about you and your requirements. They treat every client as an individual rather than a source of income.