Language hotlines

Our language hotline service connects callers directly to an interpreter who speaks their language. It circumvents the often unwieldy process of language identification and allows organisations to be far more responsive to the needs of non-English speakers. The service is sometimes public access telephone interpreting or ‘TalkBack’.

The service is available 24/7

Your organisation will be allocated a series of telephone numbers, each of which corresponds to a target language. For example, your numbers could be the following:

01430 ###531: Arabic
01430 ###532: Bengali
01430 ###533: Chinese Cantonese
01430 ###534: Dari
01430 ###535: Estonian
01430 ###536: French.

The numbers you are allocated will only be used for your organisation.

Calls to these numbers will come through to our operations centre. A non-English speaking member of the public who dials one of these numbers (‘the caller’) will hear the following message in the target language:

“Thank you for calling [your organisation’s name]. Please stay on the line and we will connect you to an interpreter who speaks [target language]. This service is only available from 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday, not including Bank Holidays.”

This message will be played twice. Hold music will then be played while the caller is waiting.

A member of our operations team (‘the operator’) will telephone an interpreter who speaks the target language. The operator will then call a member of your organisation (‘the service provider’) on a telephone number that you have nominated. For example, this could be the telephone number of your main reception or call centre.

The operator will tell the service provider that a non-English speaking caller is on hold. The operator will then introduce the service provider to the interpreter.

When both parties are ready, the operator will take the caller off hold and set up a three-way conference between the caller, the interpreter and the service provider.

What if the service provider is unobtainable?

The operator will make up to three attempts to contact the service provider. If the service provider is unobtainable (for example, there is no answer or the number is engaged), the operator will ask the interpreter to say the following to the caller:

“I’m sorry, the person you need to speak to is not available. If you can tell me your name and telephone number, I’ll arrange for someone to call you back. Or, if you prefer, you may call again later.”

If the caller decides to leave their name and number, the interpreter will pass this information to the operator. The operator will then send an e-mail to the service provider, at an e-mail address you have nominated, which includes the time of the call, the target language, the caller’s name and the caller’s telephone number.

The service provider may return the call at any time by telephoning our main telephone number (0870 701 2020) and requesting a three-way conference call. The service provider will be asked for the target language and the name and telephone number of the person they wish to speak to.

Will calls be monitored?

The operator will monitor the beginning of the call to make sure that the caller and the interpreter speak the same language. If this is not the case (for example, where the caller has dialled the wrong number) the operator will endeavour to obtain another interpreter who does speak the caller’s language.

All calls may be monitored at any other time for quality purposes.

How is the service set up?

To set up this service you will need to give us the following information:

1. Your target languages
2. Your nominated telephone number for our operator
3. Your nominated e-mail address for our operator
4. A second telephone number and e-mail address that we may contact you on to discuss general issues regarding the service
5. A central postal address
6. A signed go-ahead form.

Once all this information has been received, we will set up the service and allocate your telephone numbers within five working days.

What else is included with this service?

As part of this service, we will provide you with a written translation of the following text in the target languages:

“To speak to us in [target language], please telephone this number:”

This translation will be provided electronically as a JPEG or in hard copy format.

We will also provide a set of briefing notes for service providers. These notes will be provided electronically as a PDF or in hard copy format.

What other services are available?

we can record your own customised telephone message for callers in the target languages. We can also provide written translations of your own customised text in the target languages.

We can also run a training course for service providers who wish to have a deeper understanding of the issues related to telephone interpreting.


Contact details

65 Castle Street

Office : +44-1482971600
Fax: 01482 971601


"This is an incredibly exciting development We will be recommending the service - not only because of the valuable language barriers it will help overcome - but also because of the the charity's commitment to providing information relevant to the wide range of religions and cultures living in Britain today.”

Isaac Dweben, Chief Executive and Founder of Cancer Black Care,


Whatever the language, leave it to us.
Telephone interpreting  |  Face to Face interpreting  |  Translation services