FAMILIES across the North-East have now pledged more than 700 devices in a 'phenomenal' response to a new ‘Laptops for Kids’ campaign.

With schools closed for many learners, the campaign aims to provide the necessary technology for all children to ensure that remote learning can take place.

Companies and organisations have come together to launch ‘Donate Digital’ where individuals and organisations can pledge to donate redundant laptops, tablets and PCs, and schools can make requests for equipment.

The Co-op has offered to provide drop-off points for people at nine of its stores in the region, including Ushaw Moor, Park Road in Coxhoe and Newton Hall.

The machines will be data wiped to the strictest government guidance and upgraded, then distributed to children who require them most.

According to new 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 - with fears many children could fall behind with their education.

Some children are also attending school in person because they do not have the digital devices necessary to learn from home, placing an even greater burden on schools and increasing the risk of the virus spreading even more widely.

The campaign involves the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Northumbrian Water and Sunderland-based IT firms Rebuyer and Code among others.

Simon Howatson, chief executive of Code and Rebuyer, said: “The ongoing disruption to education means that thousands of children without access to technology are at a disadvantage.

“So we’ve come up with a solution to bridge the digital divide.

“Many households have IT equipment they don’t use anymore, which we can recycle and provide to children who don’t have a laptop or tablet.

“We’ve had a phenomenal response from families across the North-East, with over 700 devices now pledged.

“Together we can make a real difference and ensure no child is left behind.”

Sarah Mulholland, head of policy at the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said:

"Thanks to everyone who has backed our campaign so far - it means more children across the region will now be able to access online lessons from home.

"Ensuring all children have access to a device is critical to closing the education disadvantage gap and narrowing the divide between poorer children and their wealthier classmates."

Vicki Mains, Co-op regional manager, added: “Our stores are hubs for local communities right across the North-East and we’re pleased to be able to play a role in helping youngsters in our region get access to the computer hardware that they need to continue learning at home.”