A NORTH-EAST technology firm is appealing to others to donate refurbished laptops to Tees Valley schools and support students struggling with home learning.

Garry Brown, managing director of the Darlington firm Bongate IT, is a trustee of the Ad Astra Academy Trust and stresses the importance of education in unlocking skills and shaping successful futures.

But according to analysis by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, based on data from Ofcom and the ONS, there are 55,000 families in the region without access to an internet device.

Bondgate IT is refurbishing and donating its surplus laptops to primary school pupils as well as refurbishing devices donated by others.

The company is now reaching out to clients and other businesses in the region, urging them to donate devices and curb further disruption to learning for young people.

Mr Brown, a former pupil of West Park Primary School, Hartlepool which is part of the Tees Valley-based Ad Astra Academy Trust, said: “It’s not just young people from disadvantaged backgrounds that are unable to access digital technology.

“There are examples of households with two laptops that still can’t meet the needs of the family, especially if parents are working from home too – which means computer time can be severely rationed.

“I’m passionate about education, and whilst online home learning isn’t ideal, the lack of access to a laptop will have an impact on young people.

“Many businesses will have computers or laptops that have been replaced or are no longer required. I appeal to them to consider erasing the data and donating them to help address these inequalities.”

Anyone wishing to donate should visit business2schools.com or donatedigital.co.uk to pledge technology.