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Oreleo’s story: overcoming maths anxiety

13 May 2020

A London trade union worker joined celebrities including Rachel Riley, Martin Lewis and Bobby Seagull on National Numeracy Day on Wednesday 13 May to promote the National Numeracy Challenge which helped him overcome his anxiety about maths.

In his job at the UK’s largest union, Oreleo Du Cran deals with many public sector workers who experience the same “maths anxiety” that once held him back from achieving his personal and career ambitions.

Oreleo, Unison’s National Learning and Development Organiser for London, said he struggled with maths from primary school until he was in nearly 30 and is keen to emphasise the importance of adult numeracy education.


These achievements led to Oreleo being named a National Numeracy Day Hero. He is appearing in the National Numeracy Day Virtual Festival on Wednesday 13 May alongside National Numeracy Ambassadors Rachel Riley, maths teacher and broadcaster Bobby Seagull and Money Saving expert Martin Lewis as well as Maths Factor creator Carol Vorderman, Charlie & Lola author Lauren Child and more.

Given the Covid-19 lockdown, National Numeracy, the charity behind National Numeracy Day, has reorganised the event as the UK’s first ever virtual festival of numbers.

The National Numeracy Virtual Festival features a varied online schedule throughout the day, including videos, interviews, book readings for kids, practical sessions for adults, free resources and puzzles, accessible via

The event covers three areas people want support with during this challenging time: helping children; personal development; and getting to grips with household finance. It aims to help everyone feel a bit better about their number skills.

Oreleo said: “The National Numeracy Day campaign is addressing attitudes towards numeracy in a way no one else has done. It’s about understanding that anyone can have blockages and barriers with numeracy, at any stage of their lives, and providing the right tools and support.

“In my current role I come across a lot of people who, like myself, have carried maths anxiety from school right into adulthood. For many of us numeracy comes with a stress cloud, and generally people don’t engage with it unless they have to.

“Some of the maths at school is different to what we need in everyday life. In the real world it’s more practical. When you have to pay for things like rent and shopping, understanding maths becomes a lot more important. I had never felt confident that I knew what I was doing with numbers, and always just muddled through.

I didn’t think I could ever be a numbers person but now I think I am. I think we all are.”

For the full festival line-up visit the National Numeracy Day website

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Start improving your numeracy – register on the National Numeracy Challenge now!

National Numeracy has developed an online tool to help you improve your numeracy and boost your confidence. This interactive website is free to use at home, at work or on the move. You can assess your current level of numeracy – completely anonymously – and then begin an online journey to getting the Essentials of Numeracy. 

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Find out more about maths anxiety

What is a fear of maths, how does it affect people and their lives, and what can you do to help? National Numeracy has collected a variety of research, stories from real people, and advice about maths anxiety.

Visit the page