Anna Holland Smith

Finalist category: Digital Volunteer of the Year Award

#T4GAnnaHS

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Digital Volunteer of the Year, Winner, 2018

Co-Founder of Manchester’s Codebar and CodeYour Future branch.

Anna is committed to democratising coding education and promoting a more diverse, inclusive and equitable Tech workforce.

She volunteers for a number of organisations to further this aim, alongside her work as a software engineer. These include co-founding CodeYourFuture Manchester – a charity teaching refugees and asylum seekers how to code. As well as acting as a volunteer instructor for CodeFirst:Girls in Manchester – which seeks to redress the gender imbalance in Tech by providing free coding courses to young women from a non-computer science background. She also set up Codebar Manchester, a multi-city volunteer-led initiative providing coding workshops for women and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Through these and more, Anna seeks to make coding (and tech careers) accessible to everyone, whilst challenging the tech industry to be more inclusive. For example, CodeYourFuture offers a free coding course for refugees and asylum seekers – looking to support them into tech jobs. The course provides laptops and internet connection as well as covering the cost of childcare and travel expenses incurred through attending classes. This empowers students with the possibility to pursue careers as software engineers whilst also addressing the need for more junior developers and greater diversity within the Tech industry.

The sheer number of initiatives Anna is involved in is impressive, but her commitment and determination to make a difference is not compromised by this. Anna’s willingness to go above and beyond the normal expectations of a volunteer is demonstrated through her work with CodeYourFuture. When Anna first moved to Manchester, CodeYourFuture had no presence, but after a short conversation with the founder, she went about setting up the city’s first branch. Alongside one other volunteer, Anna conducted outreach to Refugee organisations and started to promote the course across the refugee community and within the Tech industry. Once the first intake of students had been accepted, Anna single-handedly went on to recruit new volunteers. Just a year later, the Manchester course is now firmly established with 20+ volunteers and with a second intake of students due to begin studying this Summer.

Anna is a visible role model to many who previously thought that they were unable to pursue a career in Tech.  Having only started learning to code two years ago, Anna’s professional success (being listed in Manchester’s top 30 Women in Tech) alongside her commitment to volunteering is an inspiration to many.

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AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards are organised by AbilityNet and BT and supported by a range of sponsors and partners.