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Code4000 launches at HMP Humber!

Display humber student

Great news! After 12 months of patient work and pushing at boundaries, we can finally say that Code4000 is now open for business!

The doors opened on Monday 31st July, and we’ve been inducting new prisoners to the workshop on a daily basis. 

Beginning with simple coding exercises downloaded from www.code.org, we have now moved on to building simple starter games such as Pong, Breakout and Asteroids, in order to introduce the students to the fundamentals of coding. From here, students are already moving on to learning the basics of web development - learning to code in both HTML (which covers the layout and structure of web pages) and CSS (which covers the style and design of web pages). From here it will be a small hop in a few weeks’ time into the world of interactive websites and JavaScript.

The previous experience of the students ranges from zero, to one student who has worked extensively with coding before and everything in-between. All of which is great, as those students with more experience are asked to help those with less. So far, there is no evidence that the prisoners are any less or more capable of learning to code than the general population, welcome news that bodes well for the remainder of the project. 

By the end of this year, students will have reached a professional level of web development, and will be in the position to start working on real-life projects, while at the same time further deepening their knowledge in other programming languages and web platforms, as well as complementary skills such as Agile project management and general coding standards.

This makes Code4000 at HMP Humber the first prison coding workshop in Europe.


Next Steps

We now need to start in earnest with building links between Code4000 and the business world. We need businesses who are willing to work with us, either in building the webpages and apps they need, or in helping existing code shops to deliver code. We also need to recruit more volunteers to help out on site or remotely with the occasional delivery of teaching, mentorship or guidance as the students tackle ever more complex coding problems. If you think you can help out, please drop us a line on info@code4000.org

There are of course some initial teething problems too – teaching people to code for the web without access to the internet can make things a little hard, but so far we’ve been able to work around all of these issues one way or another with the necessary restrictions still in place.

If we can make Code4000 work at Humber – by which we mean we can build up the competencies and skills of the prisoners to turn them into professional web developers, and turn in enough money for the project to more or less pay for itself – then we will have found a sustainable model that we can roll out to other prisons across the UK. In the process we’ll have achieved our ultimate aim, which is turning the lives of prisoners around and returning them as skilled and employable citizens upon their release – which is great news for them and for the communities and businesses they are returning too. 

 

Code 4000 is exactly the kind of pioneering partnership that we need to encourage. It brings together prisons, businesses and teachers to address the country's demand for digital skills and local regeneration, and giving prisoners relevant employment and a new future.

PAMELA DOW
Chief Reform Officer, Catch 22

To give ex-offenders the confidence and skills they will need to get a job - and critically keep it - we need to engage prisoners in work experience and training in custody which accurately reflects the employment market in the communities they will return to. For the first time Code 4000 gives those in our custody the opportunity to engage in a training programme to become the ‘coders’ of the future.

JASON SWETTENHAM
Head of Public Sector Prison Industries, HMPPS

Contact Us

INFO@CODE4000.ORG

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