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Birmingham: What We Do

BIG BIRMINGHAM HACKATHON - ROUND TWO Providing a technology solution to encourage and support people from migrant communities wishing to enrol on English language speaking courses in Birmingham (UK) 

Registration opening: 28th December 2021
Registration closing: 16th February 2022

Pre-hackathon event: 11th February 2022
Hackathon event: 17th, 18th, 19th February 2022


When a migrant arrives to a country with a different language, the barriers they face multiply. Basic and fundamental tasks such as grocery shopping, attending a doctors appointment, talking to their children's teachers or registering for public services become great obstacles to navigate. Directly or indirectly, all of these activities are related to basic human rights, threatened by the inability to communicate in the local language.

Birmingham has an existing migrant and refugee population of circa 250,000; of which a great majority does not have English as their mother tongue. Birmingham City Council through Birmingham Adult Social Care are aware of this situation and offers migrants the possibility of receiving free English training courses. Migrants can develop their language skills in order to facilitate the integration of migrants in the city.

However, for migrants who do not speak any English (beginners/pre-entry level), enrolment on a course is a burden in itself. Firstly, they can not understand the information on the website or any flyer or poster, so they do not know if they are entitled to free education. It is only through relatives and other members of the community that they hear and eventually get supported to enroll on the course/s. Then, the registration process includes either a call –that they are afraid to have as they do not understand what is said and if they are missing important information – or a visit to the centre, where they have to go through an assessment process. At the centre, they need to complete the registration by filling in a form with some personal details and do an assessment task in English. Providing your name, your age or your address in a questionnaire may not sound burdensome to most of us, but when you can not read and understand what you need to respond to, the whole situation becomes an enigma impossible to approach individually. As a result, a large number of migrants do not join the courses.


It is not uncommon to find migrants that, many years after their arrival, are stillunable to speak English. Each time they do an errand, visit their GPs or applyfor a certificate, they lack the confidence and skills to do it by themselves,having to depend on someone from their community to steer them through theprocess. Therefore, create a technological solution which will allow migrants(who speak little or no English) to equip them prior to attending the languagecentre for the registration and assessment to be able to know and recognise keywords/sentences that will give them assurance to ask questions with confidenceand independence.


During the 3 days of the Big Birmingham Hackathon Round Two, the different activities will facilitate the development of technological solutions that best serve the migrants' needs in relation to their initial access to the BAES language courses, with a special focus on the pre-entry level learners. During the event, you will create an accessible and migrant-centred service that can positively impact the integration of this community by improving their experience when enrolling in English training. In short, your task will be to provide a technology solution to encourage and support people from migrant communities wishing to enrol on English language speaking courses in Birmingham (UK).

The solution should address the different steps of the previously-described journey, from the initial understanding of the course offer and conditions for fee exemption to the level assessment, including signing up for an information call, the registration (via call or visit), the completion of the personal details form, and the assessment at the centre. The solution, targeted to beginners/pre-entry level migrants, should, therefore:

  • Facilitate the access to information related to the BAES courses and fee exemption conditions

  • Make the registration process accessible and understandable, eliminating the language barriers, so migrants can go through the whole process without the need of external support

  • Prepare migrants for the level assessment and registration process


To do so, we will provide you with three already-existing technologies that focus on the language and bureaucratic barriers migrants generally encounter when interacting with a service. Your solution should integrate at least one of these technologies to address some of the above-described specific problems associated with the enrollment in the BAES language courses for non-English speakers:

  • Capeesh - aimed at providing situation-specific language courses- 

  • CALST - meant to train migrants in the pronunciation of challenging sounds and words in their new languages

  • Pathway Generator -  mainly accessed through a Telegram Chatbot, directed at breaking down complex bureaucratic procedures into actionable pieces of information


The integration of these technologies in your solution will help you in addressing the challenge and facilitate the migrants' comprehension of the whole journey.

WHO - The organisers

Birmingham City Council and BAES are the main organizers of the event. The two institutions, together with the H2020 easyRights project, have joined forces to support migrants in the access and exercise of their rights. The event is supported locally by Birmingham City University.

WHO - Teams

The hackathon is open to approximately 20-30 participants. We truly believe indiversity and collaboration to find meaningful and context-rooted solutions.Therefore, regardless of their background or nationality, the participants weseek respond to the broad (and specific) description of visionaries, developers,designers, marketers entrepreneurs, engineers, migrants and field experts.

WHO - Partners

Numerous experts will inspire the teams in their hackathon journey. Colleagues who have the experiential knowledge about the challenge we are addressing will be on hand: professionals from the BAES language courses and representatives of the migrant communities that take part on them will inspire with their stories the search of solutions and provide feedback based on their expertise to guarantee consistent and meaningful solutions for this target group.

Complementary, a skilled task force of decision-makers, lawyers, designers and tech experts will guide the work of the participants. Their multi-disciplinary covers a broad spectrum of areas, ensuring that you will get the appropriate support at each moment of the process, whether you struggle with the definition of the concept, the information architecture, the data management, or the integration of existing technologies in your solution. They will be available for consultation and feedback throughout the three days of the event.


The intensive 3 day ONLINE event will provide the collaborative and engagingdigital environment to find a digital solution that will provide ESOL migrantswith the tools needed to register and complete the online assessments requiredto access free English training courses, transforming technical solutions fromideas to prototypes.


You can already register for the hackathon event, either individually or as a team:

Registration opening - 28th December 2021
Registration closing - 16th February 2022

One week before the hackathon starts, we will have a pre-hackathon event.
Pre-hackathon (online TEAMS) event – 12.30pm – 2pm on 11th February 
2022, to introduce you to the topic, give you access to the technical tools, facilitate the group formation and have a Q&A session. Please save the dates!

Pre-hackathon event - 11th February 2022
Hackathon event - 17th, 18th
, 19th February 2022

And then what? - WINNERS

The winner will be chosen during the last day of the event by a jury formed of technical and service experts, who will evaluate the proposed solutions on different criteria:

Impact - Does the solution influence easing the process for the immigrants?
General feasibility - Is the proposed solution feasible from an economic, technical, legal point of view? Is the proposed solution meeting the time constraints that ascertain the likelihood of completing the project successfully? Does the group have the capabilities and the overview to develop the solution towards its full implementation?
Sustainability - Is the proposed solution sustainable in time?
User-centred - How user-friendly is the designed interaction for both migrants and service providers? (that is, a solution that is not difficult to learn or understand, simple-to-use, convenient, accessible, and straightforward).

Technical integration - To what extent is the proposal integrating the existing easyRights IT solutions?

All participants who successfully complete the hackathon and present the prototype of a solution by the end of the event will receive an official Certificate of Participation. In addition, the winning team will be awarded:

  1. A Certificate of Achievement in recognition of their successful solution.

  2. A 5000 euros (exchanged into £) contract with Birmingham City Council to continue with the development and integration of their solution in the existing service

  3. The opportunity to present their solution in Brussels (either in person or online, depending on the COVID situation) to the European Commission

  4. Promotion in the project’s Social Media pages (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) as a public appreciation for their contribution to one of the most crucial social issues of our times

Info & Consent Form for the Hackathon

We thank you for participating in this event. In compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union, and the provisions of national legislation Data Protection 2018 we would like to assure you that your personal data (name and surname, affiliation if any, e-mail address and signature) will be used only for the purpose of organising this hackathon, but never shared with anyone else for e.g. commercial or other purposes.

Download Information notice and consent form for hackathon events (in English).

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