£20,000 personal donation to back mayor’s digital poverty fight

Andy Preston has thanked a local business owner for an “incredibly generous” £20,000 personal donation to help local children who are missing out on their learning during school closures.

Tech entrepreneur Dean Benson made the donation for local schools to support disadvantaged pupils with items such as laptops and iPads as well as internet connectivity.

Middlesbrough mayor Preston is supporting a campaign launched by Middlesbrough firm PD Ports and charity Teesside Philanthropic Foundation to tackle digital poverty during the latest national lockdown.

The big push to fight digital poverty is being coordinated by local charity Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation

Mayor Preston said: “Having created 500 local jobs through digital businesses, Dean is horrified to think that disadvantaged local kids might face even more disadvantage simply because their families can’t afford laptops or internet connectivity to work from home.

“So he was motivated to support the campaign we’ve launched to provide laptops, iPads and other tech to local schools to provide to their most disadvantaged pupils.

“It’s a wonderful gesture and I’m so grateful to Dean for this act of personal generosity.”

The scheme kicked off with a £5,000 donation from another local firm, Middlesbrough-headquartered PD Ports, with the funds shared between the town’s Unity City Academy and Tees Valley Education Trust.

But the mayor hopes more businesses will support the campaign.

“I’d love to hear from more local businesses who agree that it’s wrong for our poorest kids to be further disadvantaged by Covid and school closures,” he said. “More donations are very much needed.”

Local businesses who would like to support the fight against digital poverty are urged to contact the Philanthropic Foundation via diane.w@teessidecharity.org.uk.

Dean Benson will be part of a high-profile business panel to take part in a new online feature being organised by Tees Business, on Tuesday January 26 (12-1.30pm). Click here for more details.