Interpreters for Syrian refugees should be given psychological support as a “priority” due to the stress the work causes, according to a study.
Researchers looked at how the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme (SVPRP) was rolled out in Edinburgh, as a way to provide guidance for other authorities.
Welcoming arrangements were found to have exceeded the expectations of refugees, however, concerns were raised about the support given to interpreters.
The paper highlights how the workers were often the “only available staff” to families, which saw them build close relationships.
Interpreters reported breaking into tears during meetings and suffering bouts of depression as a result of what they were dealing with, often providing help out-of-hours.
NHS Lothian consultant Dermot Gorman, the co-author of the study, said: “It’s always variable with each worker … It could be stressful for interpreters. They were hearing stories that perhaps had resonance with their own lives.”
One of the interpreters said in the study: “I just feel down and depressed because every day you are hearing what they’ve been through and it brings back memories to me because we’ve been through this as well in my country – I was crying with them.”
Another added: “I’ve done quite a lot of work with the police, hospitals, and courts, but the fact that you establish a relationship with the families, things affect you.”
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