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Numeracy Champion inspires at Lord Mayor's Appeal impact reception

23 Nov 2022

Numeracy Champion Mark Shaw gave a heart-warming speech to more than 300 guests at the Lord Mayor's Appeal impact reception on 22 November.

The event, held at Mansion House in London, was attended by representatives from organisations supporting the Appeal and from the charities being supported by it: Place2Be, OnSide, Samaritans, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and National Numeracy. 

National Numeracy CEO and colleagues, with Mark Shaw, centre, at the Mansion House event

Skills for every Londoner

Mark, who works for City Gateway - an East London charity helping young people to boost their skills - was there to highlight the impact of our 'Every Londoner Counts' initiative which is funded by the Lord Mayor's Appeal as part of its mission to create a City that is inclusive, healthy, skilled and fair.

By training volunteer Numeracy Champions embedded within businesses, organisations and community groups to mentor other adults, Every Londoner Counts aims to improve employability, and financial inclusion for those who need it most, in a scalable and sustainable way. 

The initiative also includes workshops that inspire positive attitudes towards numeracy – all supplemented by our awareness campaigns and online tool, the National Numeracy Challenge, which encourages, adapts to a learner's level and tracks progress to boost confidence and skills.  

Mark's maths turning point

Mark is just one of those trained Numeracy Champions and it was a daunting experience for him to stand on a spotlit podium and give the speech that he had partially memorised as he has dyslexia and dyscalculia. But he was left buzzing after overcoming his nerves and rising to the challenge. 

Supported by National Numeracy Relationship Manager Suzie Dale, and repeating the mantra to just "be yourself", Mark soon had the audience in the palm of his hand! His ad-libbed anecdote about the time he was so curious to find out how things worked that he blew up his mum's shed raised a laugh, while his memories of being labelled as "dumb" and "naughty" in his early life resonated.

Mark explained that he had struggled for years before he was diagnosed with learning difficulties but that, in his experience, the chance to progress was "within everyone’s grasp." 

He said: "The turning point for me came when I was given the opportunity to teach functional skills maths and English and trained to be a proud Numeracy Champion with National Numeracy.  This has enabled me to encourage students not to give up on their dreams, to find different ways to not only learn maths and but to understand that maths is all around us in our day to day lives. This includes budgeting, salaries, life skills, math games, websites that enhance their learning, and looking at maths not as a barrier but more a hurdle to overcome.

"I’m sure any athlete will tell you when doing the hurdles that he or she will not run up to an obstacle when racing and pull out a measuring tape to see if and how they can get over it. They will simply have a go. Yes, they will sometimes trip and fall, but it’s about knowing how to get up, what you can do better and techniques you can use. This is maths: a universal language to learn, a technique to understand, and a platform to launch from once you’ve got started. Even as I speak, I am using numbers to count faces and work out how many minutes I have been talking too long!"

Becoming a trained Numeracy Champion

He added: "So.... chip away at any fears or confidence issues you have around everyday maths. Have a go at the National Numeracy Challenge. Do the Numeracy Champion training – you never know, it could transform your life. It changed mine! I used the tools I had learned about to aid me, and I felt that a switch had been flicked. I could now see why numbers were important and that I had been using numbers all my life in work and personal life, whether that was when I was fixing shelves, buying and selling or bringing up my children. Numbers never leave you."

He finished his speech to a round of applause after explaining that his improved confidence meant that he had recently been promoted to Coaching Manager. 

Sam Sims, Chief Executive of National Numeracy said: "It is an honour to be a charity partner of the Lord Mayor Appeal. We are extremely grateful for the fantastic support received from the Appeal's corporate partners, livery companies and individuals, whose generosity allows us, and the other Appeal charities, to have a positive impact on the lives of Londoners.  

"Low numeracy is an issue holding back 3.5 million Londoners from fulfilling their potential. Our Every Londoner Counts project aims to help those in greatest need to build their confidence and skills, and develop a positive attitude towards basic numeracy. We are looking forward to a rich and exciting programme of activity in 2023!"

To date, National Numeracy has trained 88 Numeracy Champions like Mark, as part of our Every Londoner Counts initiative, supported by the Lord Mayor's Appeal. If you'd like to get involved with our Every Londoner Counts programme, please contact [email protected]


Chip away at any fears or confidence issues you have around everyday could transform your life

Mark Shaw

Numeracy Champion, City Gateway