27 October 2015

They say that music is the universal language, but it seems that coding is fast going that way too.

Weston Hankins, a German entrepreneur, has set it upon himself to tackle two problems with one solution – a growing skills gap and a flood of refugees with nothing to do but wait to see what their future holds. With Hankins’ help, their future looks set to hold a significant technical skillset.
coding charity project
Hankins is to launch the first coding for refugees class – Refugees on Rails – teaching ‘ruby on rails’ and a plethora of digital skills to help those in need.

Whilst the programme, using donated laptops and free office space, is a training programme, in reality it’s an integration programme. The course opens up different areas of Berlin and introduces the refugees to new people and new networks, rather than their current situation of camping outside the council offices waiting for the decision on whether or not they can stay, and where they will end up. This process can take months.

I am constantly fascinated by how coding is changing our world. From the obvious innovations in the digital world, to sparking the imagination of children, and now closing the gap between refugee and citizen; integrating people into new opportunities and cultures.

Back in September I said that the clock is ticking and every minute we delay another child and innocent person dies and, though I appreciate we all have lives and we’re busy, could we do more to help?

I stand by the fact that I want to see our Prime Minister David Cameron standing tall and asking searching questions with other world leaders on how we best change the destiny of people less fortunate than us in Syria and the like.

I also asked for Britain to listen to what is happening and let the sadness in our hearts drive change, then and only then can change happen. Refugees on Rails is a prime example of people taking the initiative to drive change themselves.

We’ve seen hundreds of campaigns pop up, from businesses doing charity days – like we did at UKFast – to ordinary people taking the initiative, outside of established charities, to set up donation centres and delivery trucks to head over to Calais.

Whilst I certainly don’t have the answer, I do believe that until the government and leaders across Europe can agree on a solution, it’s down to people like us to drive that change ourselves.

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