Organisations collaborate in employment partnership to reduce reoffending rates and improve diversity within the tech sector
Technology enterprise charity Code4000 and digital agency Fat Beehive Ltd today announce their new employment partnership to provide prison graduates with stable employment.
Fat Beehive is an ethical digital agency that designs and builds websites and brands for charities, not-for-profits and enterprises committed to social good.
Code4000 trains prisoners in coding in HMP Holme House, HMP Wandsworth, and HMP Humber. Compared to a national reoffending rate of 46%, none of Code4000’s graduates have returned to prison.
The partnership will allow graduates to gain meaningful employment in the tech sector at Fat Beehive’s offices in London and Manchester, building on their experience of coding with Code4000.
Fat Beehive CEO Mark Watson says:
‘Coding offers people a real second chance, it doesn't matter what background or schooling people have had. Anyone with an interest can learn coding and right now there is a real shortage of developers. Fat Beehive is dedicated to improving diversity in the tech sector and has committed to take on at least one Code4000 graduate each year going forward. We believe that this can help transform someone's life and prevent reoffending and is also good for our business.’
Code4000 CEO Michael Taylor welcomes the development:
‘Getting a job on release is one of the single most important factors in reducing re-offending. That is why we are thrilled to announce this partnership with Fat Beehive to hire Code4000 graduates on an ongoing basis. In their commitment to diversity by hiring ex-offenders, Fat Beehive are demonstrating real leadership, and are paving the way for other like-minded tech companies to do the same.”
Fat Beehive is committed to improving the diversity of the tech sector of which this partnership is evidence. Alongside being a Disability Confident Employer, the organisation has had staff nominated in NatWest’s ‘Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise’ as well as actively encouraging applicants from women and racialised minorities to apply for vacancies, more of which is explained here.
Last year, Code4000 won the Tech for Good award at the annual TeesTech Awards for their work at HMP Holme House and are previous winners of the national Vodafone Techstarter Award in the not-for-profit category.
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Is this you?
Are you a hobbyist coder or developer, or a coding bootcamp graduate that wants to develop their skills by helping others? Perhaps you have recently graduated from a computer science course and are looking for your first job? Or are you an experienced developer looking for an entirely new and rewarding challenge? Do you already work in education but are looking for a refreshing new approach to skills delivery? Are you also looking for a job where you’ll be able to explore your talent for helping others to enjoy coding, and where your input can have a life-changing impact on those you work with? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, perhaps you can help us break the cycle of crime by teaching prisoners computer programming.
At Code4000 we are seeking a motivated self-starter to join our small team, where your work will have a direct impact on the lives of the people you work with.
We are a young organisation with big ambitions to grow and positively impact the lives of people in prison over the coming years. This is a unique opportunity to be part of a uniquely innovative project that looks to empower people in custody through teaching tech skills.
At Code4000, our mission is to reduce reoffending by teaching software development skills to prisoners and to find them work in the technology sector upon release.
We are the first programme in the UK and Europe to teach computer programming to prisoners and we take our inspiration from The Last Mile, an established prison coding programme that started in San Quentin, but now also runs in several prisons throughout the USA.
Candidates must have knowledge of computer coding and its uses, and ideally have some experience of supporting vulnerable groups or current and ex-offenders to improve employability skills, motivation, and resilience, though this is not essential.
A degree, or other qualification, in Computer Science would also be desirable.
Our academies are positive places to work and our students enthusiastic and keen to learn and we will provide a full package of training and support to help acclimatise the successful candidate to working in the custodial environment.
Code4000 are a pioneering organisation and are breaking new ground in the delivery of prison training and the requirements for the role reflect this. However, if you can see yourself in this role, have a strong interest in technology, and a desire to support prisoners into lives free of crime but are not sure about how you might meet the requirements, please feel free to give us a call for an informal chat. Either Jim Taylor, Programmes Director, on 07838 259 549, or Shauna Devlin, Regional Manager, on 07565 370 905, would be delighted to discuss the role further.
Closing date is Sunday the 6th of June 2021 and interviews will be held remotely within a week of the deadline. You can download the full job description here. To apply, send your CV and a short covering letter describing how you meet the essential and desirable criteria, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2015, Franky was involved in a fight following a night out; he was under the influence of alcohol and the injuries he inflicted were deemed serious enough to warrant a charge of Grievous Bodily Harm. At his trial he was sentenced to nine years in custody. He arrived at HMP Humber in August 2015. He was 21 years old.
Franky had always been academically bright, he had passed his GCSEs whilst at school, and had worked as a factory line manager and for his family’s plastering business. He had never been in custody before and, upon first arriving at HMP Humber, Franky had this to say:
“It was very overwhelming; I’d never been in an environment like that before and it was clearly something I was going to have to adapt to.”
However, Franky was keen to make the most of his circumstances and of his time in prison. Through the courses available to him in the prison education department, Franky earned several qualifications and studied for a Natural Sciences degree while in custody through The Open University. When the Code4000 academy opened in HMP Humber in 2017, Franky was one of the first to join the programme.
In the two years he spent in the Code4000 academy, Franky showed a huge desire to learn and improve his programming knowledge. He also worked as a mentor, helping less experienced students by sharing his expertise with them. Always positive, always friendly, and always willing to help, Franky was held in high regard by both prison and Code4000 staff, as well as by his peers.
Of the Code4000 programme, Franky had this to say:
“Since arriving in prison, I’d worried about what I was going to do when I was released. Being on the Code4000 course really focussed my plans, I could see a path which had not been available to me before. I also enjoyed it. I didn’t have any coding experience before, and it was great to learn. I’d also never work in an office environment and this gave me a sense of normality.”
Lloyds Banking Group
Early in 2019, Code4000 were approached by Lloyds Banking Group who were interested in developing an open, inclusive apprenticeship programme for people with barriers to employment. They were looking to partner with us and offer opportunities for high-quality, sustainable employment in the tech sector for those leaving prison.
Franky’s aptitude for coding and his positive and friendly demeanour made him a great candidate for any potential roles with Lloyds Banking Group. Furthermore, his self-reflection and willingness to take responsibility for his past while considering his future gave both Code4000 and Lloyds Banking Group the confidence that he would make the most of any opportunity he was given.
Code4000 met with Lloyds Banking Group’s Software Engineering, People & Productivity, and Apprenticeship teams to discuss how best to progress any opportunities. By now, Franky was already aware that he was being considered for the role and Code4000’s Regional Manager, Shauna Devlin, was updating him on any progress.
Upon hearing that he was to be considered for a Lloyds Banking Group Apprenticeship, Franky had the following to say:
“It was such a shock to be given an opportunity by such a massive organisation. It also changed my whole outlook on how I felt people perceived offenders and people with a criminal record, that actually not everyone was negative about it. It gave me hope.”
In December 2019, Franky was released from HMP Humber after four and a half years.
Introducing Franky to Lloyds Banking Group
Between his release and January 2020, Shauna kept in touch, advising Franky of any developments. Franky had returned home to Lincolnshire and waited patiently for news.
In January Franky travelled to Leeds to meet with the hiring manager of the Software Engineering team. He was introduced to the team he would be working with should he be successfully hired, and the manager was able to give him some insight into the role and the organisation.
Franky had made a great first impression! The hiring manager was impressed by his knowledge, his attitude, and his desire to make a positive change and put his past behind him.
The vetting process took place, including minor adjustments to take into consideration the offence and the time spent in prison. Code4000 remained in constant contact with both Franky and Lloyds Banking Group throughout, setting Franky’s expectations of the timescales and providing him with learning materials to keep his subject knowledge up to date.
While the vetting process was ongoing, Franky needed to secure a move from Lincolnshire to Leeds, where he would be based. Code4000 started a crowd funding campaign to help him cover the costs of the move; they also successfully applied to the charity St. Martin in the Fields for a grant to cover the deposit for accommodation.
In the Spring of 2020, Franky was formally offered a role within the Software Engineering Apprenticeship programme, a role he was thrilled to accept:
“I am so grateful to be given an opportunity given everything I had been though. I was also still shocked!”
Despite the unfortunate position of starting his new role at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown, Franky was able to start his job remotely and has now been in the role for almost six months. Those working with Franky have been impressed with his independence and resilience and how those traits have helped him to work effectively while based remotely. There is a sense from the team at Lloyds that Franky’s experience has helped him develop those characteristics; for Code4000, this points to the many advantages of employing ex-prisoners and giving them the opportunity to turn their lives around. Franky’s line manager had this to say on his progress:
“Franky has got off to a great start. He joined us during a period when we were all getting accustomed to working from home and at a physical distance to each other yet his enthusiasm, resilience and motivation to seize this opportunity sets him up for future success.”
Code4000 are truly grateful to Lloyds Banking Group for offering Franky this opportunity. We are dedicated to turning around the lives of our students and offering them opportunities to set them on the right path after leaving prison. We are also grateful to staff at The Humber, especially Neil Barnby, the instructor in the Code4000 academy, for supporting Franky to learn the skills that have secured him this role.
The final word, we think, should go to Franky himself who, reflects on his experience and where he now finds himself, as an Apprentice Software Engineer for the Lloyds Banking Group:
“Before I went to prison never saw myself in this position, it’s unbelievable. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Code4000 have been unbelievably supportive, both Neil and Stephen at Humber and the broader Code4000 team. The deposit for my house was the biggest help that I could have asked for and I was really grateful that Code4000 were able to sort that. Prison can be an isolating place and you can sometimes feel that nobody cares, that nobody is there to help you, but the Code4000 course was different and everyone involved, both inside and outside The Humber, were great throughout.”
Code4000's Programmes Director, Jim Taylor, writes:
Recently Code4000’s Chief Operating Officer, Rod Anderson, was appointed Peer Advisor Network Coordinator and Development Lead (Scotland) for the St. Giles’ Trust and, consequently will be leaving us at the beginning of October. This is extremely sad news for the Code4000 team, Rod being someone we all hold in the upmost regard, both personally and professionally. While we are thrilled for him and wish him all the best in his new appointment, but we will all be extremely sorry to see him leave.
Rod has worked for Code4000 since 2018, first as Regional Director for the North and then taking the reins as Chief Operating Officer at the end of 2019. As Chief Operating Officer he has shaped the direction of Code4000, developing a model of operation that is viable for our ongoing expansion and growth as an organisation. Without this work, we would be quite unequipped to undertake the development of our HMP Wandsworth academy and our expansion into the other academies that are in the Code4000 pipeline. He has been a great ambassador for Code4000, promoting our cause with honesty, positivity, and passion. Furthermore, throughout the Covid-19 crisis, he has steered the ship single-handedly while the rest of the team were furloughed.
He has been a fantastic colleague and we will all miss his sense of humour and irreverent, yet positive, approach to work and life. He has also been a supportive colleague to us all. He is known personally to all our students and graduates and we are sure they will be equally sorry to see him go.
However, Code4000’s loss is definitely the St. Giles’ Trust’s gain and we are sure that Rod will do as an outstanding job for them as he has for us; we are sure his new service users will benefit enormously from his compassionate, but practical, approach to improving the life chances of marginalised people. We wish him all the very best of luck!
Code4000's Programmes Director, Jim Taylor, writes:
On the 20th of August, Code4000 were the winners of the Tech For Good category of the inaugural Tees Tech Awards for our work at HMP Holme House. Yesterday, my first task upon returning full time from furlough was to collect the rather stylish trophy from the Tees Business office in Middlesbrough. It‘s great to return to work after almost six months out, and collecting the trophy was as good a way as any to start back!
We were thrilled to win the award; it is always great to be recognised for the work we do, and I was proud to collect the accolade on behalf of the team. It also reflects equally well on our prison service partners at HMP Holme House, without whom none of the work we do would be possible. Since opening our academy, we have enjoyed a tremendous amount of support from the team there, and the culture fostered by the prison, being one of support and rehabilitation, fits perfectly with our ethos as a charity committed to improving the life chances of people in custody. A particularly special mention should go to the Reducing Reoffending and Industries teams, as well as Stephen and Josh who deliver the Code4000 programme on site.
However, the award also represents a watershed moment in the development of our Holme House academy; a moment where we believe we take a big step in a transition from simply a charity working with offenders to a recognised tech training provider. As we continue to develop our curriculum and the offer of support to our students, we are keen to shift our narrative from one of being a prison workshop that happens to deliver coding training, to one of a coding bootcamp that just happens to be based in a prison.
Coding bootcamps (short, yet intense, training courses intended to rapidly develop a novice programmer to the level of a junior developer or further) are now established as a recognised route into software development. Some bootcamps even offer a guaranteed job upon completion, a testament, perhaps, to both the confidence of the training providers and the tech skills shortage within the UK. It is our aim that, when our graduates are asked where they learned to code, they reply “at a Code4000 bootcamp”, rather than “in prison”; we want to shift the emphasis away from the place our graduates were to the skills that they have learned.
And what’s the difference between Code4000 and community-based providers? Code4000 students are so very enthusiastic, they love coding and are desperately keen to learn (as any visitor to our academies will attest!). Given an opportunity to work in the tech sector, we are confident that our graduates will pay that trust back with interest to any employer who gives them the break they need. Regardless of the journey, we aim to provide the same outcome as our counterparts: enthusiastic, well trained, and skilled software developers ready to take up employment in the tech industry.
This is why the Tees Tech Award is so important to Code4000. The award bit we are genuinely chuffed about, but the tech bit is just as important. It provides us a platform on which to build our reputation within the Teesside tech community as a genuine developer of tech talent rather than simply a provider of prison training. Maybe the very platform on which we can, one day, like other bootcamps, include in our offer of support a guarantee that every graduate from Holme House is offered a job in the Teesside tech sector once released.
The cohort with whom we work will always need that little extra support, whether that is with finding work or training or just finding their feet upon release. Furthermore, we value the experience and knowledge of our experienced coders in the academies (putting them to good use as mentors to new students and delivering skills sessions) and have no desire to restrict the time a student can spend on the programme. However, it is our ambition for Code4000 to be seen in the same light as the many other great training providers that are helping people reach their goal of work in the tech sector and the Tees Tech Award is a huge step in that direction.
Finally, Code4000 would like to say a huge thanks to the organisers of the awards, Tees Business, and the sponsor of the Tech For Good category, Mike Racz and Domino’s Teesside. Thanks too, to the superb Teesside tech community who, whenever I have attended events or visited employers, colleges, or training providers, have always been welcoming and very supportive of Code4000 and our aims. There were two further nominees for the Tech For Good category, the ADEO Group and Itchy Robot UK, and Code4000 were in very good company given the great work that they both do. Thanks also go to our partners at the Ministry of Justice, New Futures Network, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, & Sport.
For more information about the award, or about Code4000 in general, please feel free to contact Jim at email@example.com.