Software firm Sage has made a £30,000 donation to a campaign to help disadvantaged children in the North East get online.
The Newcastle firm has made the donation to Children North East’s Computers for Kids campaign, following £20,000 of support provided last year to the North of Tyne’s digital inclusion campaign.
The company hopes the donation will spark further contributions from companies in the region, with the hope of raising £100,000 for the campaign.
It follows research which suggests that at least 55,000 families in the North East do not have access to a laptop, tablet or desktop computer. Access to the internet is particularly important during the current lockdown but research has shown it can lead to reduced life chances and other problems at all times.
Paul Struthers, Sage’s MD in the UK and Ireland, said: “The pandemic has accelerated use of technology in schools, although in turn it has exacerbated the impact of digital exclusion of some children.
“This is not a problem that will diminish when schools reopen as normal; it needs to be part of a vision where all can benefit from the huge advantages access to digital can bring to education.
“We’re delighted that our donation will have such a positive impact in this region. But we are also asking other businesses to follow suit and donate what they can to support families in their communities that need it most.”
In addition to the financial support, Sage staff are also donating unused technology through a Digital Amnesty Challenge.
Leigh Elliott, chief executive of Children North East, said: “Children North East is liaising closely with schools across the region who have been working tirelessly to identify those pupils most significantly impacted by Covid-19.
“Our charity will ensure those children get access to all the digital technology and connectivity they need to engage in their schoolwork and activities.
“This is not just a short-term issue, it is more important than ever to look at a long-term sustainable approach in ensuring all children and young people, especially those suffering the effects of poverty, get access to online learning.
“Sage provided our campaign with a massive boost, our biggest donation to date, in purchasing new devices and are delighted to be able to offer more businesses the chance to get behind this at such a difficult time for many families.”
Sage will this year move from its current home in Newcastle – the city where it has been based since its inception – to a new headquarters in nearby North Tyneside.