The Whitechapel Centre19

Last week we announced the launch of our new Workshare Pi initiative with Tower Hamlets Integrated Youth and Community Services (IYCS), where we’re taking 40 young people between the ages of 15 and 18 within the borough of Tower Hamlets and teaching them how to code using the credit-card-sized computers - the Raspberry Pi.

With week two just passed and week three this week, here’s a quick summary about the initiative and how the young people have got on so far:

The idea:

Workshare HQ is based off Brick Lane, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Despite being on the doorstep of London’s financial district and Tech City the borough is one of the most underprivileged in the UK. So when the opportunity came about to help within the local community we jumped on it. Being part of Tech City and watching it grow, it’s clear to everyone involved that technology provides a huge amount of opportunity to Tower Hamlets and those within it, and could help to address the issue of low employment within the area.

Over the past few months we’ve been working with Dr Andrew Robinson from Manchester University and Pro Bono recruitment agency, Resonate, to create a series of sessions that will enable the young people to develop a basic understanding of code (Python) and how to develop the Raspberry Pi application to generate different commands such as make a toy chicken move, and generate fun quips.

The project:

The council approached a number of schools and youth groups across Tower Hamlets to garner interest and the response was huge, with over one hundred 15 to 18 year olds wanting to take part!
From this, the council shortlisted 40 young people. At Workshare, we gathered together a very dedicated group of 16 Workshare volunteers from all departments within the company to help support the sessions.

This week we were programming to create a game of noughts and crosses (aka tic-tac-toe). Following the five-week course, all will have the opportunity to come up with an idea for an application, develop it using the Raspberry Pi, and enter it into our award, for the chance to win one of three paid summer internships.

Why it matters?

Recent research has shown that one in five jobs in the UK are unfilled due to skills shortages across industries, including IT and computing. A project like Workshare Pi will provide young people in Tower Hamlets with greater visibility into the world of tech and will give them the opportunity to see what it might be like working for a tech-based international company.

I’ve been working on the Workshare Pi project for a few months now, and it’s become a project close to my heart. With four successful sessions already completed, it’s great to see the fruition of everyone’s hard work and to see just how excited and engaged the young people are.

Keep tabs on our updates on twitter #WorksharePi and check out our latest photos on Facebook.

Holly Mills