Catch22 and Code4000
Developing an ambitious growth strategy to transform life chances for prisoners
Reoffending is a huge problem for society – the total estimated economic and social cost of reoffending in the UK in 2019 was £18.1 billion. The high rates of reoffending suggest that many offenders struggle to build a crime-free life in the community after prison. Code4000, now part of the charity and social business Catch22, provides training in coding and technology skills in prisons. These tools make it easier for prison leavers to secure higher skilled, and better paid jobs once they’re released and has been proven to reduce reoffending rates.
Working closely with Code4000, we developed an ambitious growth strategy setting out how they can scale up the programme to benefit more prisoners. Our deep understanding of the justice sector and technology, combined with expertise in enabling small organisations to scale up fast made us a natural partner.
Together with Catch22, we explored a wide range of new ideas to enable growth, with the best ideas then moulded into a strategy that will see the charity become the leading provider of coding and technology training in prisons. By equipping offenders with valuable skills, thus keeping them out of prison, Catch22’s mission will benefit the whole of society.
- Combined justice sector expertise with growth strategy know-how to identify expansion opportunities
- Engaged prison stakeholders to test the appetite for expanding coding training, under the Government’s reform agenda
- Highlighted opportunities to expand into women’s prisons to boost aspiration and diversity in STEM professions
Changing lives with technology skills
For people released from prison, being able to find a job is key to rebuilding their lives and avoiding reoffending. That’s why employment and employability is an essential component of the government’s plan to reduce crime and break the cycle of repeat offending. Currently the national reoffending rate stands at over 50 per cent for some groups – a cycle that is a significant cost to society and offenders themselves. Code4000 was designed to break this cycle.
Part of Catch22, a leading social business that works to build resilient communities, Code4000 provides training in sought-after coding skills for offenders. This improves their chances of finding a job when they’re released and, longer term, of being able to build a life free from crime.
Room to grow
Following a recent merger with Catch22, Code4000’s ambition was to expand the programme by securing new partners and funders. The opportunity was there to benefit from Catch22’s resources and relationships and roll out the programme into more prisons.
Unlocking the opportunity would demand fresh thinking across almost every aspect of Code4000’s operations – procurement of training services, structure and delivery of training, and the way Code4000 connects employers with coding talent. Aiming to grow successfully saw Catch22 partner with us in a pro bono engagement to develop a growth strategy for Code4000.
A natural partnership
A long track record of supporting reform of the justice system and our extensive work in the public sector placed us in a strong position to turbo-charge Code4000’s growth strategy. Additionally, having worked extensively for HM Prison and Probation Service, including the implementation of innovative services, we could draw on established relationships.
Our team included a graduate of the prison service’s Unlocked leadership programme – bringing frontline operational knowledge. Additionally, the team had experience in the ventures space which included knowledge of what small organisations need to scale up successfully, whether that’s matching their offer with market needs, attracting funding or partners, or strategies for unlocking organic growth.
The first step was to bring together Catch22 and Code4000 stakeholders in a workshop to test and refine their vision for the programme’s future. Together, we examined the Government’s agenda for developing offenders’ employability, and explored opportunities to leverage Catch22 capabilities to unlock expansion, while highlighting obstacles to growth. These discussions even featured first-hand stories of prisoners who had benefitted from Code4000 training.
In tandem with Code4000, we collated the workshop findings to create a range of innovative proposals to test at a second workshop. One idea was to re-think the training from a potential employer’s perspective, drawing on employability schemes serving different sectors. The question we posed was: how could you create a pathway to meet an employer’s specific talent requirements through a prison ‘academy’ run by Code4000?
Another idea was to develop additional flexibility in the programme to meet the learning needs of different cohorts. Code4000 were keen to offer entry-level training for all and, through this, identify offenders with the potential to become fully trained software engineers. Drawing on our commitment to supporting women into STEM careers, there was an opportunity to extend Code4000 into women’s prisons – a move that could eventually increase diversity in the technology workforce – and help raise aspirations for the women themselves.
Tapping into the changing attitudes to technology in prisons driven by the pandemic, we considered opportunities to capitalise on plans for new in-cell tech. With access to adapted devices in cells, prisoners would be able to practise their coding outside traditional instructor-led sessions and make faster progress.
A path to a better future
After working through these ideas together, we pulled them into a comprehensive strategy for growth. This included short, medium and long-term priorities and identified a set of practical implementation actions. The combination of innovative thinking and a structured action plan enables Catch22 to start making immediate progress on their growth ambitions for Code4000.
The strategy envisions a future where Code4000 is the leading provider of coding and technology training in prisons, supporting many more offenders to develop skills that will help them secure employment post-release and stay out of prison for good. This has the potential to bring about transformational reductions in reoffending. It could be life changing for thousands of the most disadvantaged people in society.