Spotlight on...Omoyele Davey

Updated: Jan 5

Happy New Year from everyone in the Interpreters of Colour Network!

On the 27th November 2021, IOCN had our very first, joyous AGM.

During our AGM, we gave out our very first Evolution Award. This was voted by the IOCN membership to an IOCN member who has:

● Made an outstanding contribution to the Network and the interpreting profession as a whole

● Made a difference to the profession

● Maintained and promoted the ethos and values of IOCN

● Advanced the profile of IOCs and IOCN

● Has undertaken pioneering or ground-breaking work

● Is the first IOC in their field

Our 2021 Evolution Award went to...

Omoyele Davey

Omoleye Davey holds her Interpreters of Colour Network Evolution award which is pyramid-shaped.
Omoleye holding her Evolution Award

Without further ado, Omoyele will tell you more about herself, in her own words.


As you all know, I am Omoyele Davey and was the proud recipient of the Evolution Award at our inaugural AGM, voted for by members which I am so grateful for and humbled by.

A little bit about me that you may not know is that I grew up in Nigeria and moved to the UK when I was 13 years old so I am a first generation immigrant to this country. I am mixed heritage Nigerian and Irish and was actually born in Dublin as my mum decided to rely on the health care abroad after experiencing shocking and near fatal pre and post natal healthcare in Nigeria with my older sister. I am one of 6 children so 5 of us were born abroad then returned to Nigeria when we were 6-8 weeks old. I am a mother to 2 beautiful and feisty daughters aged 14 and 2 and an Aunty to 9 nieces and nephews (so far!!). I also recently got married in August this year to my wonderful husband, who is also an RSLI.

My journey to supervision has been a long one, with my personal experiences in the early days within this profession impacting on me and leading me down the path. I did not have a great start in this profession and was nearly put off continuing as an interpreter but thankfully was steered away from that by good people/colleagues in my life. I am now near

20 years in and thankful I chose to stay as I love my profession greatly. I knew then that I did not want anyone to experience what I went through and wanted to offer support to anyone coming into the profession.

I initially looked at mentoring but the ASLI mentoring training programme had ceased. It was by luck that my interest in mentoring was passed on to Ali Hetherington who was running the first Professional Supervision training.

Omoleye interpreting

She got in touch and asked if I would consider going down that path. Once I knew what it involved and started my own personal supervision, I jumped on it as I realised I not only wanted to support colleagues but to provide a space where they could be themselves and explore all of the ‘stuff’ that comes with being an Interpreter - ethical dilemmas, co-working, vicarious trauma from assignments, their effect on the situation, other perspectives and so on.

I wanted to provide a space to challenge safely and to praise and give recognition for achievements. It is so rare we get the opportunity to talk about what went well as the critical voice is often so loud; I want to make sure that voice quietens appropriately. Most of all, I wanted to provide a space where my supervisees grow to become better, more accountable and confident professionals. The course taught me that everyone has the answers within them and I simply use my skills as a Supervisor to bring that out, holding up a mirror to them.

I commenced the course run by 360 Supervision in January 2015 and by November of that year, I became a Qualified Professional Supervisor as part of the very first cohort of BSL Interpreters. It was truly one of the most powerful courses I have been on and allowed me to explore aspects about myself I never knew I possessed, it was draining and wonderful both at the same time. How strange that I did not think of my colour at the time nor the

impact it would have being the first Black Sign Language Interpreter Professional Supervisor. It brings me joy to know that I am not only providing that space to BSL Interpreters, but more importantly, to those Interpreters of Colour who see someone who looks like them and has some shared experiences that means they feel safe, seen and heard.

Omoleye interpreting

I am not very vocal on the IOCN WhatsApp group, sometimes due to the sheer volume and speed of responses, but also, I am aware of the position of trust I am in as a Supervisor, something I take very seriously. Navigating such a sociable profession as a Supervisor can be difficult as you have to maintain that neutrality, non-judgmental, non biased sense and display of self but remember, I have my supervision space where I can be me, warts and all

and the IOCN is a place where I feel safe and accepted despite my ‘quiet’ nature.

Omoleye interpreting

Looking to the future, I want to encourage more IOCN members to become Professional Supervisors and I would love to be in a position where I can be at the forefront of that in regards to training. In 10 years time, there will be cohorts of IOCN members trained or training to become Professional Supervisors in a safe space, so then all IOC’s have a wide range of choice of the safe spaces they can go to. I was asked about how many years experience you should have as an Interpreter before looking at this training and I would say a minimum of 3 years, but personally, I am glad I had more years behind me, both professionally and personally.

Going back to why I am writing this, being nominated for such an award having had the journey I have had is truly humbling and such an honour, so to have actually had members vote and to have won was completely overwhelming (as those who were present could tell from my uncontrollable sobbing!!). I offer my huge thanks and appreciation to the member that nominated me and to the membership as a whole for awarding me this honour, it has shown me just how much representation matters and filled me with extreme pride.

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