8,000 Cambridgeshire children need a laptop - will you help?

Cambs laptop campaign launched

The Digital Drive campaign aims to provide over 8,000 children and young people across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough with a laptop in a bid to tackle digital inequality. - Credit: Cambs Youth Panel

A campaign to help provide thousands of children across Cambridgeshire with access to online learning during the Covid-19 pandemic has been launched. 

The Cambs Youth Panel (CYP), Cambridgeshire County Council, Peterborough City Council, Cambridge 2030 and the Cambridge Digital Partnership are teaming up to find 8,000 laptops for youngsters as part of the Digital Drive campaign. 

Around 8,000 children across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough do not have a laptop or PC, while over 3,000 do not have internet access at home to access lessons, teacher support or interact with friends. 

Phil Priestley, founder of the CYP which has provided laptops to young people throughout the pandemic, said: “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.” 

Cambs police deliver laptops

The Cambs Youth Panel has worked in conjunction with Cambridgeshire police to deliver laptops to children and young people across the county during the Covid-19 pandemic. - Credit: Facebook/Policing East Cambridgeshire

Residents are being encouraged to help tackle digital inequality in the county, such as donating second-hand laptops or making a financial donation. 

Julie Spence OBE, Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire and Cambridge 2030 ambassador, said: “It’s critical we ensure the next generation are able to make their way and take their rightful place in our digitally enabled society.” 

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There are four ways that residents can help the campaign: 

- Search your drawers, cupboards and desks and donate all unused laptops - Check your laptops to see if they meet the required specification, or if unsure, donate anyway.

- Take your laptop to a local library – a full list can be found here: https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/libraries-leisure-culture/libraries/visit-a-library. Peterborough City Library is also able to accept donations between 10.00am and 3.00pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

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 CYP which will remove and destroy all hard drives and data, and refurbish laptops. 

- Make a financial donation – you can donate through Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council’s GoFundMe page at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/cambridgeshire-laptops-for-children or the CYP’s GoFundMe page at: https://bit.ly/2N73fb0.  

- Purchase and donate an item(s) - To find what items are needed to for refurbishing donated laptops, visit the CYP’s Amazon wish list at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/hz/wishlist/ls/3FCVZUSB9TZVC?ref_=wl_share.  

- Volunteer your time and/or expertise – The CYP needs at least 25 skilled computer technicians to help with laptop refurbishment in Ely, Wisbech, Peterborough, Huntingdon and Cambridge. The campaign needs volunteer drivers to collect and deliver laptops for refurbishment and then onto schools. 

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: https://cambsyouthpanel.co.uk/.   

- While iPads and tablets may be donated, they will not enable effective home working so may be distributed for use in primary schools. 

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.

"I speak for all my colleagues when I say this initiative really is a top priority for us. 

“I would like to thank all the local organisations already working hard to provide devices to children or who have donated to our campaign.” 

For more information and to support the campaign, visit: https://cambridge2030.org/.