Cookie Consent by Cookie Consent by The Interpreting Collective - platform co-op for UK interpreters
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Attention all interpreters...

Let's build something new together!

In 2018 we set about finding ways out of the grim economic reality many UK interpreters are faced with. We have come up with three solutions and then carefully developed each one:

The first solution is a digital platform. We set up technology to let clients book interpreters directly. We make sure it is quick and simple to do. The result? A bypass around translation agencies in the UK market.

Next, we implement a proper business model. Designed to make the platform profitable, and to ensure we deliver the best value for money. For service buyers, service users, and interpreters alike.

And third, we run things as a co-operative society. Interpreters who use our platform have a say in how it should be run. We put profits at the service of the people. Never the other way around.

This plan is a recipe for a platform co-operative. A brand new type of business that creates a fairer and more inclusive economy. Some of the things we planned haven't been tried before. Our challenge can be great. But so can the reward!

We have more details to share below... (and lots more in the coming weeks)

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The thing(s) our platform will do...

Automation. Platforms are made possible by technology. Activities that until recently required staff to be done, can now be handled autonomously by computers. We will have our platform take over the usual responsibilities of booking management teams. The following tasks will be automated:

  • quoting,
  • sourcing interpreters,
  • sending job offers,
  • allocating jobs to interpreters,
  • managing timesheets,
  • invoicing and accounting,
  • payment processing,
  • payouts to interpreters.
  • managing timesheets,
  • invoicing and accounting,
  • payment processing,
  • payouts to interpreters.

Communication. The platform will set up file sharing facilities and enable clients and interpreters to contact each other freely. All files and data shared by clients will be stored securely in the cloud for the duration of the booking. Unauthorised access will be prevented.

Disintermediation. Or in other words: cutting out the middleman. This is the outcome we want to bring about. After all of the admin work has been taken care of by the platform, what is there left to do? Only to provide the actual service. But that is precisely the one thing translation agencies cannot do. Because they are not service providers. Interpreters are.

IMPROVEMENT. We thought carefully not only how to automate the booking management process, but also how to make it better for interpreters. Here are some of the improvements you can expect:

  • jobs will be allocated fairly (not to the fastest finger, or the one located nearest),
  • wages will be paid out on a weekly basis,
  • paperless timesheets,
  • timesheets that can be authorised on job completion.
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Getting prices, wages, and profits right

Platforms are two-sided. They connect two distinct user groups who need something from each other, e.g. clients and interpreters. A platform can function only when both groups are present. It means that, as the platform operator, we must be focused on attracting and retaining users. How do we do that? By looking after the interests of both parties and making the terms of the bargain good for everyone. Neither group must be favoured over the other nor exploited for the sake of profits. We made sure our business model will reflect that:

  1. We will charge modest co-op fees on every booking. Thanks to automation our profit margins can be notably lower than at translation agencies.
  2. We reject the idea that the only way to make a profit is by putting a squeeze on interpreters. That's why clients will pay a separate platform service fee for every successful booking. This will take the pressure off the interpreter wage and help limit co-op deductions to no more than 15%.
  3. We will introduce an optional subscription-based model for interpreters. In exchange for a small monthly fee, they will gain access to more opportunities and extra services provided by us.

Regardless of subscription or membership status, wages and terms will be the same for all interpreters:

  • guaranteed minimum payment,
  • satisfactory travel payment,
  • progressive cancellation fee,
  • curtailment fee for 2hrs+ bookings,
  • hourly charging (no 15-min. increments),
  • five possible wage uplifts,
  • full transparency.
  • hourly charging (no 15-min. increments),
  • five possible wage uplifts,
  • full transparency.
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We are not alone!

Our project is supported by The Hive programme from Co-operatives UK, the trade organisation for the British co-ops sector. Since summmer 2019 we have been receiving advice and guidance from a dedicated co-ops expert. We have used it to improve our business model and platform design. More importantly, we have drafted our governing document, a.k.a The Rules. It sets out the goals of our organisation and how all decisions will be made within it. We are now ready to apply to the Financial Conduct Authority to be officially registered as a co-operative society.

We have also made some valuable contacts:

  • Globally, with The Platform Cooperativism Consortium, which is the intellectual and organisational hub for the worldwide movement of platform co-ops. The Consortium have put us in touch with similar platforms in the USA.
  • In the UK, with two other platforms comparable to ours: Equal Care Coop - for care workers; and SignCo - for sign language interpreters. We support each other by staying in touch and comparing notes whenever necessary. To learn what progress they have made, click the logos below.
equal care coop logo signco logo
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Coming soon...

We have only scratched the surface of the plans and designs that we drafted. Step by step, we will be sharing more information about the #platform and its many features and usage. We will also set out the #business terms and conditions, and rates that we will be rolling out. Finally, we will be explaining the details of our #co-op set-up and membership requirements. All our updates will be labelled with one of the three category tags and linked together on the website.

With the research and general planning almost done, we have completed the first phase of this project. It is now time to move to the next stage and start building the platform. This will require more people, more focus, and more funds. That is why, if you want us to succeed, please engage with us in the coming weeks and months. There are a lot of things we will need help with, and we are counting on your support.

What you can do to #contribute :

Get involved

Look out for updates with the #contribute tag. It will be used whenever we need your help. We may ask for your input, or volunteers, or networking on our behalf. If we launch a crowdfunding campaign early 2020, we will ask for donations too. Without your involvement, no more progress can be made. So please keep an eye on this website, our newsletters, or Facebook and Twitter profiles. Share!

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Get in touch

We may be busy, but never too busy to answer your questions! Send us an email whenever you feel you need to know more. We also welcome any feedback, input, or a valuable lead. We will be recruiting more people to join our Steering Group soon, so expect to receive more details about it. But if you already know you would like to be at the centre of it all and help us out, drop us an email today.

Get registered

If you haven't registered yet, please do so by clicking the button below. You will then be able to receive newsletters with progress updates about our project. Registration is also the first step needed to receive job offers through our platform in the future. Please check our access criteria first. Only qualified interpreters with work experience will be able to use the platform, or become members of the co-op.

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