The joys of English

Sometimes people think that they have enough English not to bring a friend to interpret for them. I have to say this happens most often with the Eastern European Centre Users more than any other group.

This morning I was trying to help a lady who had not received her tax credits yet. After two lengthy phonecalls to Tax Credits, two of which I asked for a Slovakian interpreter for, I was beginning to think this was a case for the MP and was looking up his surgeries times etc.

Then I tried Tax Credits again and decided to speak myself this time – oh if only I had done that the first time!!! He told me that his office couldn’t deal with it as it had been passed unto another office for further information.

I asked her about this, had she received a letter from them? Yes! She then produced a letter from her bag. Received on the 13th February. She had come here and was told what she had to do about it, but hadn’t done it, and now just dead frustrated and angry that she hadn’t got any money yet.

I had already been with her for almost an hour, and if she had just given me that letter at the beginning, she could have been out of here in less than 10 minutes.

That was followed by an Afghan gentleman who was adamant that the City Council had the dates wrong on a letter they had sent him. I asked him to bring the copy of his form in – sure enough the City Council had the date right.  He then tried to blame us – after all we had filled in the form. I said to him “The question was when did you start renting the house? and you have said in 2003” He said “Oh I thought it meant when did I move in.”

Then I had another Eastern European couple.

“Are either you or your husband carers for anyone with a disability?”


“Are any of your children disabled?”


“Why does your husband not claim Job Seeker’s Allowance?

“He cares for disabled son.”






  1. Peter Smithers

    So it’s not just in Sheffield where we have this problem!

  2. Paula Smithers

    Ah – now I know what you were doing, Rhoda. i understand your frustrations!

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