North East campaign to combat digital poverty welcomes ‘massive boost’ following £30k donation from Sage

A campaign to help eradicate digital poverty amongst the North East’s children has received a significant boost, thanks to Sage, the region’s biggest technology company.

Sage provided the donation to Children North East’s Computers for Kids campaign to help hundreds of disadvantaged young people stay connected to education. The money will be funnelled to the North of Tyne region, where Sage’s new global head office will be based when it opens at Cobalt Business Park. This builds on the £20k donation the company made in 2020 to the combined authority’s Digital Inclusion programme.

By working together, Sage and Children North East hopes the donation will spark further contributions from the region’s leading businesses.

According to analysis from the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, at least 55,000 families in the North-East do not have access to a laptop, tablet or desktop computer. Digital exclusion can lead to less access to education and jobs and social isolation in later life.

£200 funds a digital device, connectivity and distribution for a child or young person. Sage is calling on other businesses to help raise £100,000 as this would provide the region’s children with 500 new, data-enabled laptops; a significant contribution towards ending digital poverty in the North East. Paul Struthers, MD UKI, Sage, 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 this financial support, Sage colleagues are also donating unused technology through a Digital Amnesty Challenge via Sage Foundation. Sage Foundation unifies Sage’s partners, colleagues and customers in action philanthropy and will match the value of the colleague’s IT donations with additional funding to support digital inclusion.

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.”

Cllr Joyce McCarty, Employability and Inclusion lead, said: “Sage is a significant driver of digital innovation and adoption in the region.

“We’re delighted they are getting behind our Digital Inclusion programme, not once but twice, and that they take seriously their social responsibility to support those who are least well off. So far, the Digital Inclusion scheme is supporting over 2600 residents, and this donation will help hundreds more over the coming months.”

Other local businesses can donate to the campaign via the following link:

https://children-ne.org.uk/campaigns/computers-for-kids/

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