9 03, 2017

Can we all stop filing for bankruptcy please!

By |March 9th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

It’s been a hard year for me as CEO of a thriving company in a challenging environment. Not because of the steep increase in demand for our services, not because of the MoJ contract, not because of our drive to keep delivering at 98% fulfilment and not because while we strive to keep prices down, we also make sure we pay all our suppliers bills  on time.

It’s been a hard year because I have had two of my most important companies file for insolvency within 4 months of each other. One was my local gym. Ethos which provided me with a great space to keep fit, strong and healthy so when I go to work I can focus 100% on quality and service for my clients.   The other was one of my clients.

Two very different companies, but when they dropped into insolvency, it caused surprise and delivered some shared lessons for 2017.

This is what they did right.

Clients liked them.  Every yummy Mummy in Cambridge liked Ethos, it was different, warm, welcoming – a little bit like your family.  The quality of the teaching was superb and they made a real difference.  And say what you like about cheap and cheerful agencies, but clients talk about them fondly with a twinkle in their eyes.  Those charismatic leaders persuaded and negotiated, with Ethos even achieving £800,000 worth of crowd funding in 4 months.

They had a good business model with good values and didn’t need to go bust.  We can criticise small agencies but they give their clients what they wanted – if they didn’t they wouldn’t have kept growing their top line.  It was the bottom line that they couldn’t get right.

Talented staff. Both companies led great, energetic teams,  Finance Managers who spent most of the last ten years  hiding under desks, pretending to be out when suppliers came knocking for their money, Operations Managers that pulled people together and delivered for their clients time after time, dealing with the most intractable problems with cheer and a chuckle.  Ethos had Rosie, with a triple A* in economics from Cambridge who gave it all up to be a yoga teacher. However, neither  had statesmen and women of steady hand and temperament, so necessary in times of strife and stress.     


This is what they did wrong.

Vanity. It’s great to look flash, with offices of steel, glass and concrete, but if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.


New offices in Central London with the latest technology can sometimes tip you over. Ethos had prime Cambridge office space with 5 glass partitions that cost £5,000 per panel.   Year after year, we are strongly tempted to say “blow it, let’s go crazy”. But we’re still here, working  on our farm, with the very unglamorous cows  and farm machinery.


Greed. Both companies operated with intent; contracts are chased after and  won at  prices that were unsustainable,  with shaky delivery and  ultimate failure.  Ethos had visions of an international brand when the reality was that an expansion to London crippled the Cambridge branch, sucking out energy, time and resources and bringing it to its knees.

Most importantly, they didn’t do their maths homework.  There’s only one reason companies go bankrupt and that’s because they run out money.  Risk isn’t analysed, cashflow isn’t looked at and profit margins aren’t maintained.  Since setting Clarion UK up we have instilled a rigour about numbers – how many bookings, at what price, with how many interpreters, budgets on a weekly,  monthly and annual  basis and it works.

Lessons learnt and we will be keen to observe how the market and interpreters react. Next week- Steven Dering and other disasters.

Sally Chalk

30 01, 2017

Assistant Bookings Coordinator – Education appointments

By |January 30th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Assistant Bookings Coordinator – Education appointments
Based in Thriplow 09.00-17.00, Monday to Friday
C £20,000 per annum

Clarion is the UK’s leading provider of interpreting services for Deaf People and provider of support for students who require additional learning support.

We work with leading Universities, FE & HE Colleges and Adult Education establishments across the UK supporting students with a variety of needs from Dyslexia, Sensory Impairment, Educational Mentors and many other forms of support.

Working with our lead Education Coordinator you will record bookings for students with specific needs throughout the UK and help source the appropriate support from our database.

The role is interesting, demanding and fulfilling and in order to be a success within our team you will need to be articulate, have excellent IT and listening skills, be able to react quickly and efficiently to requests, be able to prioritise workload and enjoy working as part of a busy team.

It is important that you have your own transport as public transport options are limited.

If you are interested, please send your CV with a covering letter to Beth Jamieson.

Clarion is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes applications from people with disabilities.

1 08, 2016

Summer Workshop in Cambridge

By |August 1st, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Strategies for maintaining BSL interpreting integrity in courtrooms.

Facilitated by David Wolfenden, MASLI, RSLI.


11am – 4pm 18th August 2016

There is an intrinsic dilemma at the heart of court interpreting and it is this; Interpreting practice in the UK sits somewhere along a spectrum with conduit/conservative interpreting at one end, and the ally/liberal model at the other. In courtrooms, we much prefer to sit where high level meaning is imparted and something real is conveyed to the Deaf person rather than being a robotic “word for sign” interpretation. However making a choice to position ourselves at the liberal end can itself raise problems and there are consequences to how meaning is packaged. The reasons for this are as follows:

• Legal professionals may often use language in ways designed to negotiate and manipulate the answers that they want and would much prefer us to be at the conduit end behaving like language machines rather than repackaging what they say to suit Deaf culture. Their expectation may be that we are operating at a literal level. It would benefit us to give thought to how to respond to such differing expectations.

• If we sit at the liberal end, we often may need to make explicit the changes we are making. We will be looking at how this might differ from other interpreting domains such as a GPs’ surgery where we may keep changes in meaning implicit.

• Interruptions, repetitions and meta comments can have ramifications. We will be looking at some strategies that might be useful to empower us to make those decisions.

• Different values can compete and clash and whilst this is common to all domains, to function effectively in a court room, we ought to devote time to these considerations.

Based on ASLI’s Legal Interpreting Best Practice document, the aims of the session are to:

• Discuss tools for managing the players in the room without jeopardising yourself, the court and the Deaf person

• Explore the formulation of appropriate questions – “do you mean..?” or “sorry I can’t interpret it like that” all have impact

• By indulging in higher level thinking, increase your competence and confidence in court or if you are considering court work

• Lessen fear and anxiety and give a sense of mastery, ownership and empowerment

• Examine ways in which to maintain integrity whilst providing a service in judgmental conditions

• Provide a spring-board for investigating dilemmas in other domains e.g. mental health or education

• Share your experience and insight with those considering court-room interpreting

• Include you as part of the National discussion on this topic

If you would like to be involved, then please contact Lydia on 01763 207914 or lydia.brown@clarion-uk.com

18 07, 2016

There is no time to lose

By |July 18th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Our position in the UK – join us in our mission.  Statement from Sally Chalk, CEO. 

“Joining our interpreting team as a staff member will have significant and positive benefits for your professional career as BSL/English interpreter. You will be an influential part of a team that is absolutely committed to providing the best quality interpreters in the UK to Deaf people.

We have been in operation for over for 14 years, delivering the full range of services for the Deaf Community, UK wide 24/7/365. We started out from the corner of Cambridgeshire Deaf Club and have grown into the leading BSL/English interpreting agency in the UK processing over 19,550 interpreting bookings each year and consistently achieving a 98% fill rate. Our industry reputation is hard earned and recognised by both clients and interpreters.

We believe there is no time to lose. Deaf people should have world class access to services. That is why Clarion UK’s BSL/English interpreters and communication professionals work tirelessly to deliver our specialist services day and night across the UK. Every day 85-200 Deaf people can now access information at work, at hospital, in court and wherever they need it – we are on track to increasing that number to 300 by the end of this year. But we can’t stop there, because we want all Deaf people to have the best quality access and as a profession we have work to do in terms of training, career development, industry-wide quality standards and accreditation. It’s an ambition that relies on commitment and investment. And it has led us to commit resources of over £200k per annum to our interpreting leadership team as well as to accreditation, training, development and support.

We are dedicated to supporting the public sector to maintain its position as the best in the world, with equality of access for all at the forefront. Deaf people in Britain deserve the finest possible services when they access them and we are committed to providing it.

Our public sector clients include trade unions, 22 local authorities, 15 London boroughs, three unitary authorities and 21 local borough councils. We work in the health sector, providing services to 78 hospital trusts including Guy’s and St Thomas’, UCLH, Kings College Hospital, Addenbrooke’s and Great Ormond Street Hospital. We also provide services to GPs and health community programmes. Our work in the legal sector supports Deaf people in family, civil and crown courts, the tribunal service, the Crown Prosecution Service and 15 police authorities. We also support the voluntary sector by servicing a contract with Victim Support, which ensures our clients in the criminal justice sector receive a seamless service. We currently provide services to 157 Deaf students in higher and further education across the UK including the University of Cambridge. We have many private sector clients including Ingeus, The National Theatre, various law firms, Morrisons, GlaxoSmithKline and British Telecom. To see what our staff say about us, please view this clip.

We only employ the best quality BSL/English interpreters who are registered, trained, supported, vetted and mentored to the highest standards. They are talented, professionally driven, ambitious and devoted to improving, learning and contributing to changes in the industry. Come and join our team, be part of improving standards across the UK and get access to the most challenging and exciting assignments from the security of an experienced team. Come out after your tenure with us with the best possible CV and training under your belt, ready to take on the world as a freelancer with skills, confidence and experience and having contributed to a revolution in service delivery for Deaf people”.


13 07, 2016

Supporting Young Deaf Inclusion On An Exciting Residential Course

By |July 13th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

We are rerunning this ‘Good News’ story after Ingeus also sent it out again in their most recent bulletin!

Having summer off is so over-rated, (it’s not like you can lay out in the sun anyway!) it’s much more fun in the life of a CEC (Communication and Employment Consultant) especially on a youth residential course!

Penny Wilkinson, one of our much loved CECs tells us all about her ‘Summer of Fun’ when she supported two young Deaf students on a residential programme to encourage youth development and independence. Living in a tent and rock climbing was just the start…..read on!

Penny’s Story:

The programme is designed to encourage young people to take up the opportunity to creatively use their entrepreneurial talents whilst also developing friendship and independence; I was privileged to be a part of this by supporting two Deaf students at separate locations over 4 weeks. And when I say it was a summer filled with fun, I wasn’t kidding!!

The First Week:

Our home for the next 5 days was at Consall Scout Camp just outside of Stoke on Trent. A group of 80 students with staff were dispatched, all with tents and equipment for the week and split into smaller groups/teams to focus on team building.
From 10km hiking to abseiling and rock climbing – every day there was a new challenge allowing the students to develop team skills….. and I would say that the ‘challenge’ was far greater for me than it was for the young individuals!

During the evening there were games and activities for them to do, one of which was a basic sign language class that they asked me to lead. Most of the 80 students were keen to be involved with this! They enthusiastically learnt the ABC and simple phases such as “good morning, afternoon, evening”, “please and thank you”, and “Get me a cuppa tea would you!” The young Deaf students were so thrilled to feel included in group discussions with my support – it was a joy to see.

One Deaf student’s parents commented that they could not believe the transformation in their young daughter’s confidence the first weekend she was home before returning for the second week!

‘Home’ for the first 5 days!

Week 2:

During the second week we stayed in student accommodation at a local university (not exactly my idea of luxury) so they could experience a nugget of student life! Talks were given from various groups in the community, on topics ranging from self-defence to budgeting. They also had people from charity organisations coming to tell them about their charity.

Weeks 3 and 4:

The final two weeks saw them develop a project to support a local charity. Working in their teams to raise money and to perform some good deed; for example: one team painted the rooms where the charity holds their meetings.

This programme has an abundance of substantial benefits that young students can gain; especially for the Deaf students as it allowed them total inclusion with no barriers.

Both students developed from being initially shy and reluctant to get involved, to become major team players in the charity project. This by far was the most rewarding part of the programme for me, and of course for the two young Deaf individuals who had achieved so much in a short space of time to last a whole lifetime! Supporting them has been a great experience for me and one that I hope I can repeat.

Clarion UK were proud to have made all the above possible for the two young Deaf customers by pulling out all the stops to provide the support at very short notice; further enhancing our unique partnership with Ingeus.

Ross Foster, Ingeus’ Contract Manager for the youth programme commented to Clarion’s UK Business Development Manager, Bob Marsh:

“I would like to place on record my sincere thanks for your efforts with this request. When I initially made contact on Tuesday I did not think there was any realistic chance that we would be in this position now and it speaks volumes for Clarion UK and you personally that you have managed to achieve such a positive outcome for us.”

“Phew!… I know I said it was a lot of fun but the 10km hike… not so much!”


If you would like to know more information about this type of support, please contact Bob Marsh via email or phone on 01763 207900.

13 07, 2016

Leading the Way for Employment Support!

By |July 13th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Leading the way for an innovative and effective specialist employability support for Deaf and hard of hearing customers

Clarion UK’s Bob Marsh, who is Deaf himself, will be delivering a Masterclass session on “Getting it right for Deaf customers” at the annual IntoWork Convention at the ICC in Birmingham on 11th/12th July. Come along and learn more about what works well for supporting your Deaf and hard of hearing customers. More details can be found here.

Clarion is the UK’s leading British Sign Language (BSL) specialist employability and interpreting support providers for Deaf and hard of hearing customers with a proven track record on the Government’s Welfare to Work programmes. We have pioneered effective ways of working with Deaf people and providing accessible services.

Deaf people habitually shun mainstream employment providers because of the difficulty in communication and the lack of accessible services for Deaf customers. This could have such serious impact that many vital opportunities are lost and they can become disillusioned and sceptical of any support offered to them.

Clarion UK’s core strength lies in sustaining a National and highly successful award-winning (ERSA’s Supply Chain Partner of the Year award in 2013) revolutionary and practical solution to promote Deaf inclusion within employment related services. Thus, assisting mainstream providers to meet the unique needs of Deaf and hard of hearing job seekers at a local and national level.

Clarion UK has been in successful partnership with 12 major Prime Providers and sub-contractors on the Government’s Work Programme, Work Choice and Specialist Employability Support since 2010. This shapes our organisational culture and values and how we deliver these services when working with Deaf customers some distance from the workplace and thus encourage empowerment and independence.

The core aim of Clarion UK’s specialist employability support services is to assist Deaf people to seek, gain and sustain suitable employment.

We are excited to hopefully become an integral part once again in the forthcoming ESF opportunities and the new Work and Health Programme and to re-engage with our current and new partners.

If you would like to know more about our unique services for Deaf and hard of hearing customers and would like to include us in your tenders please get in touch with Bob Marsh UK Business Development Manager bob.marsh@clarion-uk.com  or 01763 209001

2 02, 2016

Video Remote Interpreters – We Need you!

By |February 2nd, 2016|Categories: British Sign Language, Careers, Uncategorized, Video Remote Interpreting|0 Comments

Ever thought the idea of ‘working from home’ sounded appealing? Ever have some down time in between interpreting jobs that could be used to earn a bit of extra revenue?

We are looking to expand our bank of home working interpreters for our Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) service with fully qualified and registered interpreters. Our VRI service allows Deaf individuals greater access to organisations such as, their own working environment, healthcare and public services through an on-demand, online interpreter.

If you are as passionate as us about working with the Deaf community and are interested in finding out more about working from home in your down time, please get in contact with Beth to find out more.

We looking forward to hearing from you!

29 01, 2016

Join Us in the North West

By |January 29th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Clarion was started in 2002 in Cambridge to improve equal access and support services in the local area, although now a nationwide organisation we still hold the same key values. We are a friendly, communicative and supportive team; if you are as passionate as us about working with the Deaf community, we would love to hear from you.

Owing to an exceptional 2015, we are now searching for more professionals to join our ever growing team of freelancers in the North West. We are in need of RSLIs and TSLIs with experience in court interpreting, healthcare and community work including education and AtW.

If you are keen to increase your variety and work for a supportive and flexible company, please fill out a freelancer application form here or contact us on 01763 209001 or via email for more information.