People arriving from Ukraine - risk and need: public protection guidance

Guidance for all practitioners involved in safeguarding of children and adults who are arriving in Scotland from Ukraine to identify and respond to risk and need.


Ukrainian is the most common language spoken in Ukraine (67.5%), followed by Russian (29.6%). Other languages include Crimean Tatar, Moldovan/Romanian and Hungarian.

A person with good conversational fluency in English may not be able to understand, discuss or read important information proficiently in English. They may be reluctant to request or accept professional interpreting and translation services due to fear of costs, inconvenience, or concerns about confidentiality.

Professional interpreters

The offer of a professional interpreter should be offered to all of those who experience language barriers. The use of family members or friends as interpreters should be avoided as there is a high risk of misinterpretation, breach of confidentiality, and safeguarding concerns. Friends and family are not likely to have the skills to accurately interpret health or care related information, are less likely to maintain impartiality, and should be given the opportunity to provide support without the added pressure of needing to interpret. When undertaking Child or Adult Support and Protection procedures a professional interpreter should be offered to all individuals who experience language barriers, in such cases relying on family members could lead to concealed or minimised information.

It is inappropriate to use children as interpreters. Children are not likely to have the language competency and literacy in English or any other languages to discuss complex concerns, such as health concerns. They may also experience vicarious trauma through listening to and relaying sensitive and distressing information concerning their family member’s experiences.

Practitioners should be alert to sensitivities relating to interpreters and seek to take into account the views and wishes of the people from Ukraine when balancing the need to provide an interpretation service.

Wherever possible, interpreter services should be provided in person. Where this is not possible or would lead to significant delay, interpreter services can be provided virtually. As a last resort, interpretation services can be provided over the phone.

Interpreters may experience vicarious trauma through listening to and relaying sensitive and distressing information concerning people's experiences. Efforts should be made to support the mental wellbeing of interpreters and mitigate any impact of their work through challenging circumstances.



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