Volunteers

We’re always looking for more helpers!

Helping young people learn to code is hugely rewarding. If you can offer your time for two hours on a Wednesday evening, we’d love to hear from you! Prewired sessions take place weekly on Wednesdays from 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm at CodeBase, 38 Castle St, Edinburgh, EH3 9DZ. We run them pretty much throughout the year, with some breaks during Christmas and Easter. We also hold an annual Summer Hack — a one-week team-based hackathon.

Please drop us an email before showing up, so we know who to expect — hello [at] prewired [dot] org.

How We Work

Prewired is largely unstructured and our main goal is to support the young people in learning whatever it is they want to learn. So volunteering at Prewired consists mostly of wandering around a room full of budding hackers, answering questions, helping to fix bugs, and actively checking on the kids to make sure they’re happy and learning. You don’t need to come every week, but it’s helpful for the kids to have some consistency, so we’d love it if you could come as often as possible.

Any and all software and hardware skills are welcome! See What we do for more information.

Workshops and Summer Hack

From time to time we hold a more structured workshop about a specific topic, and encourage the attendees to get involved and learn something they might not otherwise have thought about. If you’d like to run a workshop we’d love to have you — contact our Administrative Assistant (regina [at] prewired.org) For some ideas, see the Prewired GitHub Wiki.

We also run a team-based 5-day Summer Hack for young people each summer, usually in July. If you can spare the time to help out, this is a great opportunity to give more extended support to Prewired attendees.

Certifications and qualifications

Disclosure

All of our volunteers are required to become members of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme in accordance with Disclosure Scotland and we work with Volunteer Scotland to arrange this, free of charge. If you are already a member of the PVG Scheme when you first volunteer to help at Prewired, we will ask you to pass your PVG Membership Number to our Child Protection Officer so that we can keep it for our records.

Certifications

Currently volunteering at Prewired doesn’t qualify you for any specific awards (except for massive kudos and great experience and references for the CV). However, we’re interested in improving your experience however we can, so if you know of a scheme you think we’d fit into that will help you to earn something more, please let us know.

On your first day

The first time you come to a session, please introduce yourself to the Duty Mentor and remind them who you are and what topics you’re able to help with.

You’ll be asked to read the following three documents and sign your acknowledgment that you have done so:

You’ll also be asked to fill out your details for the Volunteers’ Register so we can keep in touch with you and keep track of the skills we have around the room.

Ongoing participation

Sometimes it can be hard to get stuck in, but we have some suggestions below in Volunteer Guidelines.

Please ask for an invite to the #volunteers channel on the Slack Prewired team — this is where we post announcements, etc. that might interest volunteers and occasional reminders about sessions. You can also use this channel to chat to other volunteers and ask questions.

Simple snacks are provided at each session. We do not provide, and do not allow fizzy/sugary drinks, energy drinks, alcohol or sweets. We ask that the CodeBase vending machine is not used by volunteers or attendees during Prewired sessions and please note that volunteers must not share food with attendees which has not been provided by Prewired.

Organising and outreach

If you’re interested in getting more involved in the organising side of things, let us know that too! If you have any specific qualifications, skills or experience (e.g., in education, child services, first-aid, accounting, …), don’t forget to mention that.

Volunteer Guidelines

As a volunteer, you must

  1. Comply with our Child Protection Policy. All attendees, parents and volunteers must treat each other with respect and courtesy; exclusion, bullying, disrespect or abuse will not be tolerated.
  2. Be identifiable to parents and children by wearing a lanyard.
  3. Provide us with up-to-date contact details. All volunteers must be registered in our Volunteers’ Register.
  4. Return borrowed volunteer lanyards at the end of a session.
  5. Ensure that you know who the Duty Mentor is at the start of each session. If you notice anything wrong or have any concerns not related to coding, you should report this to the Duty Mentor who will take appropriate action.

As a volunteer, you should

  1. Look out for attendees with their hands up, and find out what they need.
  2. Check up on attendees who appear to be playing games or staring blankly at a screen (or other forms of unproductivity). Nudge them into focusing by asking them what they’re working on; if they have some code, ask them to explain to you how it works, and what their aim is.
  3. Find something to do for attendees who aren’t sure what to work on. Try to find out what they’re interested in — some have wild ideas but don’t know how to implement them — or what experience they already have, and use your best judgment. CodeAcademy JavaScript tutorials are a good fallback if all else fails, but take some time to tailor your suggestions if you can.
  4. Find another volunteer who knows about the specific topic if you can’t help with something. Just ask around, but don’t leave a child with a question hanging.
  5. Help attendees search the web for answers. Being able to look up information and understand how StackOverflow works is a valuable skill you can teach to someone!
  6. Answer parents’ questions to the best of your ability, but defer to one of the organisers if need be.
  7. As far as possible, monitor the activities of children working independently to ensure they are not accessing inappropriate online content.
  8. Do as the Duty Mentor says.

Finally …

  • You must not share any food or drink with Prewired participants that has not been provided by Prewired.
  • You must not communicate with attendees in private email messages or any other form of private medium.