Beyond Brexit: Creating dialogue and action for a country divided

Held at ThoughtWorks, London, Hack Brexit was attended by dozens of people who voted to leave and remain. The aim was to create dialogue and action beyond Brexit, to help our country move forwards positively.

Seismic shifts have occurred in our political landscape, caused by Britain’s vote to exit from the European Union in the recent referendum. Many questions are still unanswered and the future is extremely uncertain. Massive changes are expected on national and international levels, and people want to reform the current system.

Whatever your political views, whichever way you voted, Hack Brexit provided a platform for people to come together to create positive change. People from both technical and non-technical backgrounds, and at all levels of ability were welcomed. Participants formed groups and pitched their ideas for apps that could help solve the issues.

Three key themes

The teams chose from the following key themes surrounding the Brexit debate:

Eight projects

The ideas ranged from apps that will fact-check articles from the mainstream media and on social media, to data visualizations that will render policy documents more accessible for the average reader.

Eight groups came up with their own innovative solutions, each tackling one of the key themes.

Tolerance and Prejudice

These projects were created to deal with the fact that arguments about immigration became mixed up with the Brexit debate. Leaving the EU became synonymous with far-right anti-immigration policies in some circles, and this was fueled by certain media outlets. That’s why one of the themes was Tolerance and Prejudice.

I Street Watch shows solidarity with people who have suffered as a result of anti-immigrant feeling and been victims of hate-crime. The app has features that can document incidents and provide useful resources for victims.

Effective organising and campaigning

There was a strong focus on creating a community as we debate these crucial issues using an app called BrexLex to facilitate Effective organising and campaigning.

Another app was called Pop! Outside the echo-chamber and it deals with the fact that we all live in ‘echo-chambers’. We chatter in social bubbles without communicating with a true cross-section of the population, and our hackers wanted to pop these bubbles.

Truth, Fiction and Accountability

Many untruths have been spread regarding the referendum, at such a speed and volume that it has become even more difficult to tell fiction from reality.

In service of Truth, Fiction and Accountability, we need more transparency in our policy-making.

Another app idea, Ministers Under the Influence, would show the links between politicians and members of industry. It will help to demonstrate what - or who - influences politicians the most when they are making policy decisions. It would also reveal where party donations have come from, and include a register of MPs private interests.

A fact checker called What the Fact could be installed as a Chrome extension to help web users to recognise when content they’re reading on the web needs to be fact-checked and also provide the relevant information - whether that’s a tweet or a news article.

It was a truly inspiring day and a groundbreaking event. The hope is that the participants will take these projects forward to keep the dialogue flowing and creating the change we need beyond Brexit.

Watch the project videos on HackBrexit Website and follow the projects on HackBrexit GitHub

Organising team: Charlotte Fereday (Programmes Manager, Code First: Girls), Laura Paterson (London Office Principal, ThoughtWorks), Adriana Katrandzhieva (Recruitment Consultant, ThoughtWorks), Jade Daubney (UK's Recruitment Change Lead and Graduate Talent Scout, ThoughtWorks), Suzie Gilbert (Consultant for ThoughtWorks Social Justice initiatives, Pomegranate), Joe Sammut (Consultant for ThoughtWorks Social Justice initiatives, Pomegranate). Kindly supported by EmpowerHack & WeRockTech.

Written by...

Catherine Heath

​She has a thing for psychology, diversity, tech and startups​, and is l​earning to code. She gives valuable insight into the women in tech scene on her website, Away With Words, and shares tips for success and self-development. Connect with Catherine on Twitter or LinkedIn.