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I know what we did last summer

What a year!

Summer 2020 may not be the most memorable of experiences for most of us. It definitely doesn’t feature in my top three for hedonistic fun summers. But it might just be number one for summers that meant something.

The covid-19 pandemic flipped us, our worlds, and our education on its head. But as Uni students we have already decided to learn and engage with education, so being expected to stay interested and productive seemed fair (reasonably). But what if you were at primary or secondary school though? Remember how after the summer holidays you always felt like you knew less than you did before the holidays started? Now imagine that, but exacerbated by stress, fear, online schooling pre-holidays and being locked down inside your house. It must have been a nightmare.

Feeling lucky

Durham Uni students are incredibly lucky in the grand scheme of things, most students have college households to lock down with, parents who can take us in, room to work from home, an incredibly well funded educational institution to engage with, and an unseemly amount of resources. Lots of kids have few or none of these things. Well, we were aware of this and our Founder realised the challenges that a summer of being locked down would bring for children. Children needed a way to remain engaged with education, but not just through some formalised teaching or tutoring environment but through something fun, so we needed to come up with a solution, and we knew children and their parents needed support to do this. Who is we?

Learn With Us Summer Camp

“We” is Learn With Us Summer Camp, an online initiative that was created by Giammarco Di Gregorio (with the help of a few friends and eager volunteers). The initiative grew from one boy struggling away in his room trying to make engaging content to over 3,230 hours of volunteering, 10 educational courses across two summer camps, over 450 hours of educational time, two recognition in the local press (1, and 2), and a Durham University volunteering award for the best educational volunteering project of 2021. For me, being a part of Learn With Us was an incredible experience. We managed to get kids from all across the county engaged with learning during a time when honestly even I would have been up for a break from education. To imagine the impact we would have in those first days boggles my mind even now. 

The future

May Learn With Us live on for years to come and may its power and impact grow. Part of why Learn With Us was so successful is that we found a gap, not just an educational and attainment gap, but a gap in support and opportunity. It wasn’t rocket science or some act of genius, it was just a genuine case of empathy from our founder combined with a strong work ethic and an important cause. So, if someone asks us what we did last summer, I know what we will say: We helped children who needed us, and we will be doing the same every other summer too.

“Every summer!?” I hear you shout. “What’s the plan?” That is an excellent question. Although we started on YouTube, Learn With Us is growing and changing all the time and we are transforming into something new. Given the changing context and to keep this project alive, vibrant, and impactful we need to do something new. After all, we still have a burning desire to achieve our mission, but we appreciate there may be a better way. Therefore, we would welcome anybody who would like to join and transform this summer camp along with us. 

Can you support us?

If you are excited about doing all you can to somehow contribute to the education of children, if you are creative and resilient, if you would like to help us transform and grow, we would love to hear from you! Please drop us a line at

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Jack Hughes

PhD candidate, Learn With Us Assistant Director and a Head PEA (Psychologists for Environmental Action). Don’t worry about any of that though what you need to know about me is that I own way too many (not enough) plants, watch way too much football (ask my partner if you don’t believe me), and am notorious for taking on too many projects at once. I am literally writing this blog when I have 6 other projects that I should probably be focusing on instead!
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