by Gianluca Palombo
5 August 2019
CodeYourFuture are a charity who train refugees, asylum seekers and people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds to become professional software developers. We are already running classes in London, Manchester, Glasgow and Rome – with plans to extend to other cities in the near future. On the weekend of the 27th June, CodeYourFuture students, graduates, applicants, mentors and public guests gathered to celebrate and find out more about our work and, more generally, efforts to use tech as a force for positive social change in society: https://conference.codeyourfuture.io/
Friday 28 June
Over 100 students, volunteers, applicants, partners and guests assembled throughout our first day of the CodeYourFuture Conference 2019 in Glasgow. The venue was the wonderful Sir Charles Wilson building, where we guaranteed a memorable day of work courtesy of the University of Glasgow and the UofG Computing Science department.Thanks to our insightful panels and guest speaker presentations, CYF members and public guests were able to gain fantastic and unique insights into the crossover between tech, community development and social justice.
Highlights included inspiring lessons and testimonies delivered by speakers such as Mel McKendrick, CEO at Optomize Ltd and Assistant Professor in Psychology at Heriot-Watt University, and Pheona Matuvo, co-founder and director at community interest company Radiant and Brighter. Our own CYF graduates shared their incredible stories in their own panel, inspiring current and future students – whilst through gratefully-received tea and coffee breaks, networks were built as new friends were made in addition to a lot of overdue catching up between CYF cohorts from across the UK.
Friday was wound down with a relaxing evening at the home of one of our amazing Glasgow volunteers, Carme! We should give a special thanks to SICSA for covering expenses for the food and refreshments we are able to provide at this occasion and others throughout the Conference weekend for the benefit of our CYF members and guests.
Saturday 29 June
On Saturday, we carried on, as CYF students, graduates, mentors and organisers got to work on technical skills development and strategy planning! On Saturday, we found ourselves in a similarly inspiring conference environment as we were hosted by BBC Scotland in their amazingly impressive Pacific Quay headquarters.
Students on the day were able to learn and share different skills alongside their counterparts and predecessors as well as mentors from CYF cohorts in different cities. Highlights included insightful and valuable workshops by Michael Antczak, experienced software developer and tech meet-up organiser, and Alec McEchran, former Senior Software Engineer at YouTube and Google and now Principal Engineer at KPV LAB Edinburgh.
For mentors and organisers, the day consisted of creative group work and discussions, helping to agree on fundamental universal goals of CYF cohorts and thinking how we can help provide even greater access to life-changing social and professional development for disadvantaged groups in the UK and further afield.
Saturday ended with us gathering at West of Scotland Cricket Club in Glasgow for a final winding down and celebration following a high-octane yet fulfilling two days.
Overall, we were delighted with how the Conference went, and hope that our public guests, in particular, were able to gain extra insight into the valuable and unique work we do at CodeYourFuture. For the CYF community, we come away with renewed energy, inspiration and more coherent aims and strategies. We hope these things will aid us in continuing to channel tech, education and community empowerment in an effort to improve our societies.
We thank SICSA for supporting the conference along with The University of Glasgow, BBC Scotland, Financial Times and our microsponsors who donated online.