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National Numeracy welcomes new ambassador Iona Bain

2 Nov 2022

National Numeracy is delighted to announce that Iona Bain, well known for sharing her money knowhow on TV and radio, has become an Ambassador for the charity. 

Less well-known is that Iona has dyscalculia, often referred to as “dyslexia with numbers”. Having learnt to love working with numbers, the financial writer, author, broadcaster and speaker is passionate about sharing her tips for becoming number confident, just in time for Number Confidence Week which kicks off on 7 November.

Head and shoulders photo of Iona, smiling, in blue blouse

Dyscalculia does not have to hold you back

Iona said: "Admitting you struggle with numbers when you write/talk about money is SCARY. But I hope it inspires others to get the help they need.

“I was diagnosed with mild dyscalculia at school and have always struggled with maths, so I know what it’s like to lack number confidence. But when I started talking and writing about personal finance in my 20s, I realised just how important it is to be unafraid of numbers if you want to manage your money well on a day-to-day basis."

As part of her work as a National Numeracy Ambassador, Iona hopes to inspire others who struggle to feel comfortable with numbers, whether or not they have dsycalculia, to give learning to get on with numbers a go. Her Number Confidence Week tip sheet is available for download on the National Numeracy website now.

She said: "I have slowly but surely got to a better, more positive place with numbers and whilst I won’t be doing a maths PhD anytime soon (!), I now wholeheartedly believe anyone can learn to manage their dyscalculia or maths anxiety so they can lead a perfectly happy and successful life.

“That’s why I’m so proud to be taking up this role as an ambassador for National Numeracy. I want to share the coping strategies I’ve learned, as well as give other people the confidence to become functional and competent around numbers. I hope I can represent and help all those people who don’t feel naturally very comfortable with maths and really convey the message that if I can get better at this stuff, anyone can."

Helping others to manage their money

Iona is BBC Morning Live's regular financial expert and Radio 1's "Money Hacker", was diagnosed with mild dyscalculia when she was at school. She writes a weekly column for the i newspaper and published her first book "Spare Change: Better Ways to Manage Money" in 2016. She has since also written "Own It!" to advise young people on different ways they can invest.

She has collaborated with BBC Social, BBC Bitesize and Young Scot on a series of educational videos and worked with the Lloyds Banking Academy on the Your Future Finances initiative – the first educational programme in the UK to be fully sign-language enabled. Iona is also the youngest-ever governor of the Pensions Policy Institute.

Iona Bain joins host of celebrity Ambassadors for National Numeracy

Iona joins National Numeracy's fantastic line up of celebrity Ambassadors who include Rachel Riley, Martin Lewis, Bobby Seagull, Katya Jones, Peter Sawkins, Harry Baker and Timi Merriman-Johnson who all freely give their time and energy to help the adults and children in the UK get on with numbers so they can get on in life.

Sam Sims, Chief Executive of National Numeracy, the independent charity responsible for National Numeracy Day, says: “We are thrilled that Iona has agreed to become a National Numeracy Ambassador. Her own journey with numeracy and her passion for helping others to feel more number confident is nothing short of inspirational. She has nailed what you need to get on with numbers: a positive mindset, a belief that numbers are valuable in everyday life and the drive to give it a go.” 

Maths Appeal podcast appearance

The Maths Appeal podcast, hosted by maths fans Bobby Seagull and Susan Okereke, returns for its third series this week.  The weekly episodes feature lively interviews with National Numeracy ambassadors and advocates from the worlds of entertainment, education, music, and baking – alongside discussions and tips about managing money.  Iona joined Bobby and Susan to kick off the new series with a discussion about maths in the real world, budgeting, and the cost of living crisis.

You can see the full line-up of episodes here, and listen wherever you find podcasts:

Acast  Apple  Spotify  YouTube

Helping with dyscalculia

Our new ambassador Iona Bain shares some tips based on her own experience. 

Peter Cherry from the Dyscalculia Network talks about living with dyscalculia. 

You can also find out more about the signs for dyscalculia and where to get more advice all on our handy information page.

Find out more

Iona Bain

Number Confidence Week

Whether you're anxious about making ends meet, helping children with numeracy homework, or trying to get a new job, you CAN get comfortable with everyday maths. 

Check out our videos, tips and inspiration to kick-start your confidence with numbers.

Visit the hub

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Try the National Numeracy Challenge

However you feel about maths, you’re not alone. The National Numeracy Challenge is a free and easy-to-use website you can use to improve your confidence with numbers, in your own time and at your own pace.

It’s ideal for brushing up, checking your level, or for catching up on learning you missed, and it’s all about the maths you need in daily life and at work – no algebra or trigonometry.

Image showing the Challenge on a computer monitor