Coding is one of the modern world’s most sought after skills.
Taking our inspiration from The Last Mile - an established prison coding programme that started in San Quentin but now runs in several prisons in California - we aim to teach people a life-changing skill and get them back into the job market.
The reason for this is simple. People who leave prison and find work are highly unlikely to reoffend. At the same time employment is one of the great barriers for people with criminal records, and many companies will not hire them.
By teaching prisoners coding skills, we can significantly increase their chances of employment post-release, as well as help supply companies with the skills they so desperately need. Prisoners also have lot of time to practice and learn a new skill, something which is highly suitable to the trial and error method necessary to learn coding.
By investing in prison education, you’re not only turning around the lives of individuals and improving the prospects of the communities to which most of them will eventually return, you are also saving the state and taxpayer money.
The Code 4000 idea is simple. We want to build a similarly successful programme in the UK to those already operating in the US and elsewhere. Starting with a pilot of sixteen prisoners at HMP Humber, we want to build a network of coding workshops in UK prisons, with the aim of giving people a second chance, turning their lives around, and training them in a skills set which has a high demand in the UK (and global) jobs market.
The development of each prison workshop is split into four stages.
Stage 2 allows successful graduates of Stage 1 to then work on real-world projects for external clients, which will also provide a modest income to the project.
Stage 3 will then see them working for clients in the real world on temporary day release.
Stage 4 aims to help them find full time employment as developers.
Of course, this is a pretty tall order, made all the more difficult when you consider that prisoners selected for the programme will be learning web development skills without direct access to the internet.
This is where we need your help.
If you are a company or organisation that is looking to hire coders, please contact us to talk about placement schemes and becoming a partner.
Training sessions will be led by an on-site classroom facilitator, with access to course books, computers and offline training videos. However these need to be complemented by industry experts who can dial in via Google Hangouts/Skype to discuss various topics with the class directly, or who can help remotely with simple Q&A and code reviews posted onto a dedicated platform. This involves only a couple of hours of volunteer time a month.
If you cannot sign up to volunteer over a long period, even offering a couple of month’s worth of support would be a huge help. If you think you can do that, and you know something about HTML/CSS/JS, then please do get in touch - firstname.lastname@example.org
We are also looking for corporate sponsors to help meet our modest costs in running the project. If you think your company or organisation could help out, please contact us. All donations, large or small, help, and your contribution will go a long way to help making this project reach more people.
Code 4000 is not only the first initiative of its kind in the UK, but also in Europe. We are a UK-based non-profit (C.I.C). We are working with close support from the National Offenders Management Service (NOMS), who have kindly offered to help sponsor the first pilot at Humber, and with help from the Ministry of Justice. We have also recieved financial support from Unilink and private donations.
Michael Taylor is an entrepreneur with over 25 years experience of working in both the public and private sectors.
He is currently the CEO for Jump Shot Consulting, building advanced cloud-based business applications for small and medium sized companies, based in Stockholm.
He has previosuly worked in the fields of International Cultural Relations, International Development, IT Consultancy and Digital Communications.
Michael has been the initiator of several previous projects, including CoderDojo Stockholm (a free code club for kids aged 7-17, which to date has taught more than 2,500 kids programming), Access All Areas (Sweden’s first ever music event aimed at the international music industry), and most recently Code 4000.
Michael is a Master of Philosophy graduate with a big interest in the arts, sciences, economics, and all things tech. He is also a champion of the ideas of Adam Smith.
Duane Jackson is a London- and Brighton-based technology entrepreneur. He founded KashFlow Accounting Software, one of the first software-as-a-service businesses in the UK, in 2005.
He grew it to 40 staff and 20,000 customers without taking any significant external funding and eventually exited in 2013, selling to IRIS Software Group for £20m.
He’s since set up supdate.com, a tool for businesses to track and report their progress to external shareholders.
Having been a care-leaver and ex-offender himself, he is passionate about promoting entrepreneurship to those from a similar background. He’s a Patron of The Prince’s Trust, the charity that helped him start in business.
Throughout his journey, Duane was mentored by Lord Young of Graffham. Lord Young wrote the foreword to Duane’s autobiography, Four Thousand Days, which is available on Amazon.
Andrew Dixon has a degree in International Politics and started his professional life as an English teacher in Japan. He then went on to work at Société Générale (Tokyo) and Goldman Sachs (Sydney) on hedging strategies.
In 2000, Andrew Dixon left Goldman Sachs to set up his angel investment business – ARC InterCapital. He has invested in more than 30 early-stage companies including Infinitesima (high-speed microscopes which provide 3D imaging for the semiconductor industry), Gamesys (gaming software), Sonoma Partners (cost-effective wealth management), and Prosper4 (employment and self-employment opportunities for ex-offenders).
Andrew is an Enterprise Fellow at the The Prince’s Trust and is the founder and Trustee of the Woodhaven Trust, which focuses on prison reform and various offender rehabilitation initiatives within the UK.
He supports the Liberal Democrats and is the founder and Chairman of the Liberal Democrats Entrepreneurs Network.
Andrew earned an Executive MBA from London Business School in 2009.
Neil Barnby has an Honours Degree in Mechatronics & Computing (Robotics) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education having graduated from Greenwich University..
In 1980 Neil helped set up Forum 80, the UK’s first public online access system, and was secretary of the Association of Free Public Access Systems. He then founded MonsterMaker, an internet hosting, design and training company, working for a number of blue chip clients.
Neil later left the business world and moved to teach in prisons. Whilst there he designed a new work area in the prison to create a business-like environment in order to reduce the risk of re-offending. This area was proven to settle restless prisoners as well as reduce re-offending, with 100% of its prisoner graduates obtaining full-time work or employment on release.
Neil is a winner of both the G4S International and UK & Ireland awards in 2012 for his work in prisons.
Having previously set up a similar project in the former Wolds prison, he is now taking the role of the first facilitator for the Code 4000 pilot.