CodeYourFuture — a coding school to train and empower refugees, asylum seekers and disadvantaged groups in the UK

What is Code Your Future?

Code Your Future started in 2016 as a coding school for refugees.  We’re a non-profit organisation with the aim of supporting refugees and asylum seekers in the UK who have a dream to become a software developer in the tech industry. 

In 2015, as the worldwide refugee crisis hit new heights, and the media coverage started to peak, lots of tech companies began pledging that the tech industry and the use of tech was going to play a role in alleviating the crisis. At the time, Germán was working at Samsung and followed the news avidly, but fast forward to a year later, and he hadn’t seen that much progress had been made, nothing really with a tangible impact. While refugees were at the centre of the crisis, they weren’t being incorporated into the conversation, or consulted on what they thought was needed and much coverage from certain sections of the press tended to be quite negative. As the worldwide political climate seemed to change in 2016, with rises in nationalistic and isolationist policies, Germán felt a sense of helplessness that nothing was going to be done to ones at the centre of this crisis who were suffering, and he knew that he wanted to do something that would provide an effective and creative solution. He started exploring some ideas to see how he could incorporate his knowledge and skills into such a solution, and came across another project in the Netherlands, called Hack Your Future. The model was great, a combination of professional development and skill sharing that would integrate these affected minorities into the tech industry, instead of just having the tech industry trying to create a solution around them, without involving them. 

Germán looked for a similar organisation in the UK and found nothing, no career training, no equivalent doing this type of work. From this point, he knew this is what he wanted to do, contacting Hack Your Future initially to get guidance on how they started. 

It was tough at first, with many challenges along the way, from starting a charity from scratch, to finding people who were interested to help, spreading the message in the tech community and reaching refugees who were interested in what Germán was trying to do. Even trying to form partnerships with other NGOs proved tricky, and then there were the logistics, finding a space and equipment to get started. However, eventually Code Your Future got its first applicant, its first student, passionate about software development and desperate to learn, and from that point, Germán knew he could make it work.

How is Code Your Future doing now?

We’re now offering a 6-month training program, with coaching provided by professional developers, that combines both technical elements and soft skills, to prepare and provide our students with the skills required for their first professional role. 

Having started in London, we’ve now expanded and are in four cities; London, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle, with plans for additional cities. The goal is to try and be within reach of 90% of the refugee population in the UK so that anyone who has the desire and drive to learn, can have that chance, no matter their background or the circumstance that they find themselves in. We want to provide a way for refugees and asylum seekers to learn highly desired skills in order to give them the opportunity to pursue a career in tech, which would otherwise be out of their reach. Another big part of our reason for being is in looking to address the current demographic issue that the tech industry in the UK is struggling with presently, where women and people from a BAME background are very underrepresented.

So far, we’ve had three completed cohorts of students in London, with the fourth underway as we speak, as well as, one completed in Glasgow, with new classes underway here, as well as our first cohorts in Manchester and Newcastle. We also just held our first Code Your Future conference, where we brought together over 100 refugees from all over the UK, to meet their counterparts from different cities and share knowledge, share experiences and motivate each other to hit their goals.

Over 70% of our eligible graduates are now working either on paid tech projects or are working for companies like the Financial Times, Adzuna, WeGotPop and more. Over the next two to five years, our plan is to expand so that we’re able to train thousands of underserved and underrepresented people in the UK.

How can you get involved?

Code Your Future wouldn’t work without its team of dedicated volunteers, and we’re always keen for new people to get involved whether it’s by mentoring, volunteering in other ways or making a donation to help support our work. Money raised from donations goes directly into supporting the students, whether that’s through providing laptops, helping cover childcare costs so mothers can come to class, paying for train tickets or for the food that we provide at our classes.

If you’re interested in getting involved, please visit Code Your Future to find out more. 

We’re also always on the lookout for new partnerships, particularly with companies in the tech industry.  If you’re interested to help out on a larger scale, please reach out to partnerships@codeyourfuture.io.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *