Non-profit seeking to create first Scottish coding workshop for prisoners at HMP Edinburgh

Code4000 helped ‘Josh’, pictured right, gain a job as a junior developer at Metro Bank

A non-profit is seeking financial support to create its first Scottish coding workshop for prisoners.

Code4000, which works with prisons across the UK, aims to bring its methods north of the Border in a bid to reduce the reoffending rate.

It hopes to raise £150,000 to kickstart the first ‘Scottish coding workshop’ for male and female prisoners at HMP Edinburgh.

The organisation, which has worked with the likes of HMP Humber and HMP Holme House in England, says it wants to build on the support it has received from global travel search giant, Skyscanner.

The grant comes from the Edinburgh-headquartered firm’s ‘Future Tech fund’, which looks to support technology education and training at schools level and beyond, making it accessible to all regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, location or economic background. 

Operations Director in Scotland, Rod Anderson, said: “Getting such a big player like Skyscanner onboard has given us a real boost and now means our first prison coding workshop in Scotland is a very real possibility.

“I know that our tech industry will be keen to support a programme like this that benefits Scottish companies and communities. It’s an exciting prospect for tech companies to be able to grow their own diverse pool of talent and future proof their business to meet the needs of the next generation.”

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) will be providing the environment and staff and Code4000 is seeking funding to purchase and install the necessary technical equipment to bring the workshop to life.

Code4000 founder and Chairman, Michael Taylor, was initially inspired by an established American prison coding programme called The Last Mile which now runs in five US states.

From its inception in 2017, Code4000 is expanding quickly and already operates in two UK prisons, with further plans to have launched in another five by the end of this year.

Having built strong links within the tech and fintech industry, Code4000 was proud to announce that one of its graduates – Josh – took up a position with Metro Bank on release in July.

In his blog post Josh says: “I’m absolutely delighted and cannot wait to join the team at Metro and give back to an employer who has given me an immense opportunity to redeem my working life after more than two years in prison.”

Winners of the prestigious Vodaphone Techstarter Award 2019, Code4000 is being well-supported in the UK to extend the opportunity to learn to code to young offender institutions and female prisons, as well as additional male prisons.

Code4000’s ambition is bigger than just Scotland and the UK. Working in conjunction with tech partners such as GitHub, they are building an open-sourced, offline coding curriculum that can be used in any prison coding project, wherever they may be based.

Code4000 has already helped similar projects get off the ground in France, Australia and New Zealand.

Taylor added: “The open source platform will be made available to anyone that wants to learn the art of coding, anywhere. Whether that’s prisons with no internet connection, or places with poor or unreliable internet connection in the developing world.”

Visit the website here.