Digital Drive Cambridgeshire and Peterborough addresses laptop shortfall for students

Digital Drive logo

Around 8,000 children and young people across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough do not have a laptop or PC and over 3,000 currently do not have access to the internet at home to enable them to access lessons and online resources; support from their teachers; or even interact with their classmates. We can all make a massive difference to the lives and education of these children and young people, simply by making a financial donation or donating old or spare laptops.

In partnership, Cambridge 2030, Cambridgeshire County Council, Peterborough City Council, the Cambs Youth Panel and Cambridge Digital Partnership, and Cambridgeshire Culture Foundation are launching the Digital Drive Cambridgeshire and Peterborough campaign to find 8,000 laptops and provide internet access so that every single child across our county can access their school work at home.  The second-hand laptops donated through the campaign will become the child/young person’s own to keep. Cash donations will result in purchases being made to allow for laptops and internet access to be provided. These will be donated to schools for an immediate onward loan to families with children who need them.

Julie Spence OBE, Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire and Cambridge 2030 Ambassador said: “We rarely talk about the inequalities in this county but the imperative has never been greater - it’s critical we ensure the next generation are able to make their way and take their rightful place in our digitally enabled society. I would ask everyone, businesses and individuals to support this initiative to ensure every child has the ability to learn throughout the pandemic and beyond. If any county can “achieve access for all” we can - so come on Cambridgeshire let’s all endeavour to do what we can.” 

Phil Priestley of Cambs Youth Panel said: “The coronavirus epidemic has highlighted the digital divide and made it very clear to us all that we lived with a certain degree of complacency about fair access to technology. There is a real danger that this inequality will outlast COVID-19 and still afflict our children and young people long into the future. This programme is about making sure that our children and young people have fair access to the computers and the internet. Working together as a county we can make sure that when we put COVID-19 behind us, we can do the same with digital inequality too.”

Jonathan Lewis, Director of Education for Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, said: “With home learning here once again, laptops and access to the internet are more important than ever. We want to ensure all children can partake in online lessons and activities with their school, and we urgently need the help of the local community.

“Our vision is to ensure every child has access to a laptop whilst studying at home and I am confident that we, as a community, can work together to achieve this.

“The sooner we act the sooner we can provide equipment to children at this very crucial time of their lives.”

Councillor Simon Bywater, Chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee, said: “This past year has been hard enough for our children and young people’s mental health, wellbeing and education, and I speak for all my colleagues when I say this initiative really is a top priority for us.

“On behalf of the council, I would like to thank all the local organisations already working hard to provide devices to children or who have donated to our campaign. I hope this will serve as an inspiration for others to support this initiative.”

Councillor Lynne Ayres, Peterborough City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education, Skills and the University, commented: “Whilst this past year has been disruptive to all children’s education, many children are unable to embrace home learning activities due to the lack of a computer. They are missing out on the social interaction with their teachers and peers – an important aspect of wellbeing and development.

“No matter how much you donate, you will help to empower children and young people to learn and develop at home.”

Veritas Digital Services are pleased to be part of this campaign and offer expert data erasure services:

We are delighted to have partnered with Cambs Youth Panel and be part of Cambridge 2030.  Veritas Digital Services Ltd undertake an extensive secure data erasure procedure on each device donated, to Government standard (HMG Infosec 5 enhanced), ensuring no data remains on any device.  They then clean, repair, refurbish and install any required programmes on each device before they are then distributed to help young people have greater access to online learning.


There are four ways in which businesses and members of the public across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough can help:

  1. Search your drawers, cupboards and desks and donate all unused laptops.  Please check your laptops against the minimum specification below to ensure they are viable.  (If you aren’t sure if your laptop meets the minimum specification, please donate it anyway! ) Then, take your laptops to your local library where you’ll find a drop-off box just inside the entrance. 

A full list of libraries and their opening times can be found here

Peterborough City Library is also able to accept donations between 10.00am and 3.00pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays:

.It is hoped to extend the scheme to other libraries in the City in the near future.

Laptops can also be dropped-off at the collection point in Peterborough Asda Superstore in West Rivergate Shopping Centre.

All donated laptops will be collected and delivered to the Cambs Youth Panel which will remove and destroy all hard drives (and data) and refurbish laptops so that they are in good working order before they are given to schools across the county for distribution to the children and young people who need them.

  1. Make a financial donation.  You can do this in one of two ways:
    1. Through Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council’s joint Go Fund Me page - all donations made via this portal will go towards purchasing new laptops and securing internet access and data for children and young people who do not currently have internet access at home.  A 4G router with a multi-network SIM and internet access costs £180. A Windows laptop suitable for student use costs approximately £325. Cambridgeshire’s ICT Service (Education) will carry out the procurement exercise to ensure best price is achieved through Education discount schemes.
    2. Direct to Cambs Youth Panel through their Go Fund Me page – all donations will go towards tools and technology needed to refurbish donated devices which will then be donated to children and young people who need them.
  2. Purchase and donate an item or items from the Cambs Youth Panel’s Amazon Wish List – these items are all needed for the refurbishment of donated laptops.  The Wish List can be accessed here.
  3. Volunteer your time and/or expertise.  The Cambs Youth Panel needs at least 25 skilled computer technicians, with current DBS Checks, to help the team with laptop refurbishment in Peterborough, Huntingdon, Wisbech, Ely and Cambridge.  The campaign also needs volunteer drivers to collect laptops and deliver them firstly for refurbishment and then on to the schools where they are needed.

Laptop minimum specification:

  • 1.8ghz processor
  • 4gb RAM
  • Windows pre-Vista operating systems are not viable (Vista forward only please)
  • Pre-SATA 3 technology not viable (pre-2009)
  • Please do not donate your laptop if it does not power on, has a leaking battery, electrical fault or a broken screen
  • It will be presumed that you have removed all sensitive data from your laptop hard drive. All hard drives will be removed and sent for destruction by Veritas in compliance with GDPR. If you wish to keep your hard drive, please remove it prior to donation as it cannot be returned. By donating your computer you are giving permission to us to remove and wipe your data. All hard drives will be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way that is compliant with WEEE (2013).  If you have any questions, please visit the Cambs Youth Panel website:
  • While iPads and tablets may be donated they will not enable effective home working so may be distributed for use in primary schools

For more information about Cambridge 2030 and to pledge your support, please visit



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