UK Youth is a leading national charity, committed to providing access to appropriate, high quality services in every community so that young people are empowered to build bright futures, regardless of their background or circumstances.

They won last year’s Digital Skills Award for their programme Generation Code which allows young people to get creative, develop their computational thinking and coding skills to become better equipped to take advantage of the opportunities in a world that is becoming digital-by-default.

Generation Code addresses the lack of skills in computer science in young people, empowering them to become digital creators in an ever-changing global society.

In partnership with Microsoft and UK Youth, Generation Code provides coding opportunities to young people aged 11-19 years old, the national programme trains Code Champions aged 16-25 years old with no coding experience to take the lead on delivering regular coding activities to young people in their area, sparking an interest in code through themed activities that are relevant to their interests, whether that be fashion, sport or space.

We caught up with UK Youth and asked them to reflect on why they entered last year, what the impact of winning has been and what their next big steps are:

Why did you enter the Tech4Good Awards and what did you hope to achieve?

We were recommended to enter the awards by our partners Microsoft, who spoke to us about the networking potential from the events and community surrounding the awards.

In the last few years we’ve had a big focus on tech at UK Youth, we have big ambitions about how digital can transform the youth sector, but we can’t do it alone, we need tech partners to partner with us and innovate solutions to the issues that young people face.

We were excited by the categories at T4G Awards and the chance to meet inspiring organisations and individuals committed to making change through technology. Raising the profile of our programmes would be a great way to spark collaboration and future partnerships.

What was the impact of winning on the project and team?

The impact of winning a Tech4Good Award for UK Youth has been immense. Through the Winners’ Dinner event we were connected with an awesome group of people; fellow winners, funders, supporters, government all with their own expertise to offer.

Shortly after winning the award we were organising a national hackathon for young people who had taken part in Generation Code. To pull this event off we needed support from tech experts who could spark interest and inspire young people; what better network than the T4G winners group! We decided to theme the hackathon around Tech4Good and were amazed by the support we received from fellow winners; with Baran from IMAREC, Yvonne and Scarlett from Mind of My Own and Chris from Small Robot Company all joining us on the day, hosting stalls, speaking on panels and giving bespoke advice to young people.

We’ve also sustained ongoing relationships with TAPSOS and WayToBe and have made connections through our member network to local youth organisations in Ireland and Northern Ireland to help foster further partnerships.

The platform of the awards and the surrounding comms has helped raise the profile of Generation Code and UK Youth’s wider digital work, enabling us to be including in more events and working groups with the likes of One Digital, BT and Nominet.

What are the next big steps for Generation Code?

Generation Code has now reached over 20,000 young people since 2015 and what we’ve learnt from programme design and delivery has contributed hugely to the sector knowledge about how to engage young people who would be typically less likely to engage in computer science, through harnessing youth work and informal learning.

The project is now in an exciting stage of evolution. Our partnership with Microsoft continues to grow from strength to strength and our 2019 focus is on building capacity for youth organisations to sustainably embed digital practice. Generation Code Changemakers will take selected youth workers and young leaders through an intensive accelerator programme, exposing them to the networks, skills building and support they need to create sustainable local change.

It is hugely beneficial for an organisation like UK Youth to be linked to expert contacts when we run specialist programmes such as Generation Code and it just wouldn’t be possible for us to make all these links without some help in the brokering process. The Tech4Good Awards have been so inspiring to be a part of and the contacts we’ve made have yielded really tangible impact for the young people we support. Thank you!