“There’s no shame admitting that numbers don’t come naturally to you”

In May, financial journalist Iona Bain celebrated her first National Numeracy Day as a National Numeracy ambassador.

As Number Confidence Week approaches, she tells us how important it is to remember that not everyone finds maths easy, including herself…

Iona Bain

“The reason why I was so thrilled to be asked to be an ambassador for National Numeracy was that I have dyscalculia and I am someone who struggled a lot with numbers when I was younger,” explains Iona.

“I’ve also chosen to work in finance and I write and speak about money every day, which is constantly pushing me out of my comfort zone.”

Lived experience of maths struggles

“I’m really excited that this year, National Numeracy Day had somebody involved who has lived experience of maths struggles,” says Iona.

“I know what it’s like to not be able to do sums effortlessly and I feel that having that kind of representation is incredibly important because it shows people that if I can improve my approach to maths, then anyone can, and if I can get more comfortable and confident doing everyday maths then anyone can.”

Dyscalculia is something relatively few people know much about, and Iona says it’s important not to stigmatise.

“You can definitely describe dyscalculia as dyslexia with numbers,” she explains.

“I think it’s a good description in so far as it conveys how it is not about people being lazy or stupid – you would never describe someone who has dyslexia as being either lazy or stupid, you would understand that their brains just do not process words and letters in the same way that everybody else’s does.

“I think it’s the same with dyscalculia, it’s really important that we don’t stigmatise people, also that we don’t make out that they are completely incapable of doing any kind of maths, or that they will never be able to handle numbers.

“Just as someone with dyslexia can read, speak and deal with language and get through everyday life, it’s not like it’s completely debilitating, and it’s the same with dyscalculia.”


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