Nationwide Building Society - improving the level of numeracy across the UK

By Mark Rennison, Group Finance Director, Nationwide Building Society

Nationwide has been a supporter of National Numeracy since 2012. As well as being a major funder and promoting the messages of numeracy and the Challenge Online to our employees and members, we've also worked with the charity's team to offer guidance and advice where we can, whether it be PR, public affairs or technology, something we try to do with all of our charity partners as part of our Citizenship activity - we like to get involved!

Part of our Citizenship strategy is to improve the financial capability of people in the UK, and we know that in order to do that, we need to address the root cause - poor numeracy. There's little point in trying to teach someone about interest rates if they don't understand percentages.

As a financial services provider, we talk to people about their money every day. It's in everyone's benefit for adults in the UK to have a basic level of numeracy, in order for them to easily understand which products are the best for their situation. For us, National Numeracy is a perfect fit.

We have our own programme of activity called 'Talking Numbers', which aims to improve the numeracy level of 200,000 young people by 2017 via educational initiatives in schools, and National Numeracy's work sits well alongside this.

Since its launch in March 2014, we've been promoting the Challenge Online to both our employees and members. For employees, our main emphasis is to encourage them to become ambassadors for the Challenge, and to raise awareness with their friends and families. We've held a numbers-based quiz show, run news items on our intranet and in our staff magazine, challenged areas of business to compete against each other to see which could get the highest number of colleagues involved, and even run an 'Apprentice' style task for a group of employees on a development course, based on them engaging with their branch colleagues to spread the word about the Challenge Online.

For our members, we ran a competition via our branches and our website to encourage people to register for the Challenge Online, giving them the opportunity to win £500 in shopping vouchers. We promoted it using an everyday number problem, based on a restaurant bill. That's been the key to all of our communications about the Challenge - making it real, helping people to realise that numbers are part of their daily lives, and that they have the power to improve their numeracy skills, they don't need to be afraid of maths.

Competition prizes

After the initial flurry of activity surrounding the launch, we’re now continuing to work with National Numeracy to identify new ways of promoting the Challenge and building up the army of ambassadors needed to spread the message far and wide. I’d really encourage other companies to get involved – not only is it a great training and development opportunity for your employees, but you’ll also be joining us in getting people talking about every day numbers, the first step to improving the level of numeracy across the UK.