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Hear from our participants: Radical Engineers! That sounds cool – what’s it all about?

Hear about business owners from the Hackney community - find out more about their businesses and what they hope Hackney Impact can bring to them and their business.

Hackney Impact Programme Manager, Paul Wight, talks to James Curtis, co-founder of Radical Engineers and participant of Hackney Impact.

Radical Engineers! That sounds cool – what’s it all about?

Thank you! Radical Engineers is a London-based charity that connects radical organisations working to effect systemic change with the global community of volunteer software developers and designers. We believe that technology can play a powerful role in driving social, political, economic, and health improvements. We empower charities by connecting them to the technical volunteers and expertise they need but cannot afford. 


Fantastic stuff! And what do you want to get out of Hackney Impact then?

We're excited to reach out to Hackney Impact's network of organisations working to make a positive impact in the community. We believe that we can be a valuable resource for early-stage charities and volunteer organisations, helping them to develop and implement innovative technological solutions to their challenges. We're also keen to connect with technologists based in Hackney who are interested in volunteering their skills for good.   

OK, you mentioned you are looking for charities to work with, can you tell us a bit about the project?

Absolutely. We are actively seeking out charities with projects that align with our mission of bringing about systemic change, and that have a clear technological need that could be quickly addressed by a volunteer developer. Examples of projects that volunteers have worked on include providing data analysis to Project Canopy which supports environmental activists in the Congo Basin, selecting new web icons for One Sun Health, which promotes sustainable solutions for health and well-being in rural South Africa, expanding on an educational app prototype for Maslaha which challenges inequalities for Muslim communities, and developing an automated method of accepting calls from prison for Straight Ahead, which lobbies to abolish class and race-based mass incarceration in the United States.

Yeah, I can see how that would be really valuable to early-stage charities, what’s in it for you? Sorry, I mean how come Radical Engineers are driving this project?

Mostly, we do it because we can! There's a high demand for tech volunteer opportunities in the non-profit sector, but not a lot of funding or support. Non-profits often struggle to find the money to hire skilled developers, and even when they do, they may not have the technical expertise to know exactly what they need. On the flip side, tech workers are often expected to take on side projects, but many of the available volunteer opportunities are hackathons or open source projects, which don't always offer the same sense of impact as other forms of volunteering. When we realised that there was a gap here and that we could help, we saw it as a calling to make a difference.   

Ah, I get it.. Sounds like you’re pretty committed! To finish off, would you mind telling us a bit about the Radical Engineers themselves? Who’s involved? Who your partners are, etc?

Radical Engineers is a dynamic team of four professionals with diverse backgrounds and a shared passion for social impact.

The team consists of:

  • Margreet, a behavioural economics and strategist, who's driven by projects with social impact and carries the weight of Radical Engineers' communications strategy.

  • Anouk, a data governance expert with a background in political economics, software engineering and journalism, who brings a unique lens to assessing the systemic change potential of projects.

  • Tom, a powerhouse of technical expertise with a background in social entrepreneurship, who ensures projects have technical feasibility.

  • James, a community organiser with tons of volunteer experience, who's committed to the empowerment and wellbeing of the volunteers and organizations.

While we're not yet partnered with specific organizations, aside from the ones for whom we've matched volunteers, we're keen to expand our network. We're excited to collaborate with like-minded organizations and volunteers in the Hackney community!

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