Gary Clark and Ian Rodwell are two volunteers from the Royal Bank of Scotland who have been running a Code Club in the RBS Gogarburn offices near Edinburgh for the past three months. We spoke to them about their experiences volunteering to help local children learn about coding & digital making.
They were inspired to volunteer with Code Club in order to give back to their local community – with both having existing coding skills that they wanted to share with young people.
Ian first began volunteering with his local primary school’s Young Engineer Club, and he sees Code Club as another way to help children get excited about STEM subjects. Ian told us that “Volunteering helps to promote a feeling of well-being, especially when your activity is appreciated.” Code Club in particular is important to Ian as “the country is short of people with real IT skills and ICT in schools has been seen as mostly learning how to use Word or Excel. If I can help in a small way in adjusting the imbalance, then it’s definitely worthwhile.”
The Code Club has between 6-10 children regularly attending. Gary said: “We use a mixture of laptops, PCs, Raspberry Pis and Macs, with the kids switching between them, which helps them learn new things. We’ve worked through the first Scratch module and are about halfway through the second, with one of the children working solo through the HTML projects.”
For Gary, “the best thing has been getting to see the kids progressing and coming up with their own ideas, both those with a knack for coding, and those who struggled in the beginning. They’ve been very enthusiastic and are great to be around, and it’s fantastic to see them helping each other out.”
In terms of fitting Code Club into their working schedule, both Gary and Ian have no problems. “I tend to start and finish work early”, Ian told us, “so by working through my lunch hour, I am able to volunteer in my own time.”
So what are some of the best moments at Code Club? For Gary, “the times when one of the children is stuck and another one gives them some help based on their experience, or when they sit working through a difficult problem and come out the other side, are all very rewarding.”
Think that you could help inspire the next generation to get excited about computing and digital making? Find out more about volunteering with Code Club: https://www.codeclub.org.uk/start-a-club/volunteers