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Backend or full stack Rails developer needed for community web project

Update 11/10/21: this role is now filled!

Geeks for Social Change are looking for a backend or full stack Ruby on Rails developer to work 24 hours a week.

The initial focus of your work will be PlaceCal. PlaceCal is an award-winning community calendar platform, initially developed for older people living in Manchester. By using a mutual aid and capability approach to technology, we developed a complete package that tackles the causes of social isolation at the root, combining community development work, software, and a strategy that works with existing community groups and public sector teams.

We are currently adapting PlaceCal for a project focused on supporting the trans community called The Trans Dimension, in collaboration with Gendered Intelligence. We will be building the new community information site as a static site pulling from the PlaceCal APIs (aka Jamstack). There’s a few other projects in the pipeline too.

To make this happen we need to add features to our backend and admin interface, including: interest-based filters that can be managed and owned by named groups, refactor and improve the admin interface, improve permissions and admin roles, add additional calendar importers, add various video stream features, and creating an email notification system. You can see the code on GitHub.

You will be helping develop a cutting edge technical and social intervention that targets the most socially isolated and digitally excluded people in the country. We truly believe that our ‘bottom up’ approach which builds on existing international development best practice and has been pubilished in a peer reviewed journal article is the future for truly inclusive tech practice. You would be a part of this exciting innovative process bringing social and technical spheres back into alignment.

About Geeks for Social Change

Geeks for Social Change are a trans, disabled and neurodivergent led tech studio in Manchester, UK. We are an atypical tech studio. Our work is based on anarcho-feminist principles, aims to be antifascist and antiracist, decolonise the tech sector, fight state violence, and work towards liberation of trans and disabled people among other things. To this end we co-founded the Resistance Lab collective.

Our commercial work (’the studio’) currently comprises a small team of about 3 FTE staff. We are also an activist collective (’the collective’) with an active Discord server that meets biweekly to discuss liberatory approaches to technology. We ran an Ethics and Technology Reading Group in pre-Covid times.

Our ideal candidate

We are looking for a Ruby on Rails developer with:

  • At least some experience in or knowledge of grassroots local mutual aid groups, local political organising, or running your own events. Basically, we need people who get our politics and preferably have experience assisting with community work. This could be: queer or anti-racist organising; community and mutual aid groups; DIY arts music; writing and artists groups; culture collectives and festivals; or any other experience you think fits this description.
  • At least two years’ coding experience and one year’s experience developing Ruby on Rails, with some backend experience. This can be on professional or personal projects, but preferably we will be able to see your code. You will be doing some reasonably complicated database stuff from the get-go so it’s important you’re comfortable with this kind of work.
  • Desirable: experience in a range of different programming languages or other frameworks: maybe Django, JavaScript, React, Go, Python, R, etc. Our collective projects use a wide range of programming languages so we’re very keen on people who have dabbled.
  • Desirable: experience using scrum, agile, XP, or whatever you want to call it. We would really benefit from some expertise in these areas.

That being said, experience matters less to us than cultural fit, motivation and passion. We are looking to form long term relationships with committed people. You would be working with two other developers on this project. A lot of the work will be done solo but there are opportunities for collaboration, idea sharing, working out problems together.

Given the nature of the work we especially welcome applications from trans and non binary developers, people of colour, disabled people, and other marginalised groups. We are based in Manchester, the project is aimed at a London audience (for now) and we planning on recruiting a candidate from anywhere in the UK but are open to international offers if you could be a perfect fit.

Salary and conditions

We are offering a 6 month temporary contract at this time but we are currently securing funding to make this permanent position which we hope to have confirmed by the time of interview. We are a 4-day-week employer, working 4 days a week for 6 hours (24 hours per week) because we think the 40 hour work week sucks and this is a more reasonable work/life balance. All staff work from home and choose the hours that suit them (within reason!).

We are flexible on specifics of employment and welcome applications from people who struggle to fit into other roles due to protected characteristics.

Renumeration for this role is £28,000pa with 7 weeks (28 days) holiday and an equipment allowance. We are currently a limited company but are looking to convert to a cooperative over the coming year or two.

To save you doing the maths, this is equivalent to £43,750 pro rata based on a 37.5 hour week or £46,000 based on a 40 hour week, but as we’ve defined ‘full time’ as 24 hours the term ‘pro rata’ doesn’t make a load of sense to us!


Think this sounds for you, or want a no commitment chat about it?

Email [email protected] with:

  • A short statement about your experience in community groups / activism
  • A short description of your Rails experience especially on more technical backend projects
  • A short description of your non-Rails experience
  • A recent CV (please don’t worry about customising this for us we just want an idea of who you are!)
  • A link to a portfolio if you have one, or just a few links to sites you’ve worked on, a project on GitHub, etc.

Then we will take it from there!

We expect applications to be around 500 words and definately no more than 1,000 words. We welcome brevity. Don’t worry about making it perfect, we’re more interested in getting a flavour of you as a person.

If you have accessibility needs please let us know in the initial email and we will do our best to accommodate.

We will review the first wave of applications on Monday 4th October, and keep this job ad open until we find the right person: we will update this page when the role is filled.

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