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Our Volunteering Success: Inspiring Children with Everyday Maths

4 Apr 2023

By Laura Hill, Volunteering Manager and Siân Devine, Partnerships Manager

During a remarkable first year of partnership, National Numeracy and Capital One have worked together to empower adults and children in the UK to get on with numbers and fulfil their potential, driving social mobility.

Over the last year, Capital One have been the exclusive start-up funder and pioneers of National Numeracy’s first ever corporate volunteering programme, supporting the development and launch of Numeracy Volunteers.

Capital One’s investment has enabled National Numeracy to design, develop, launch and begin a unique and high-impact primary school programme, supporting positive attitudes towards numbers and maths in Key Stage 2 children, in areas of greatest need.

The assembly was brilliant, it was great for the children to see another adult who doesn’t work in a school talk about maths and how it can impact life.

– St Mary's Primary School

Capital One have seen fantastic staff engagement with the pilot, which enables employees to support the development of numeracy in primary schools, effectively leveraging expertise from within its business to help communities prosper. With inclusive online training provided, employee volunteers across the UK can get involved at any time of year.

These Numeracy Volunteers inspire confidence in children to see the value of maths in the real world, through assemblies and classroom sessions all about everyday maths. With the support of our strategic partners moving forwards, this programme will have tremendous, tangible, and lasting impact on addressing the numeracy issue.

Screenshot of volunteers doing online training

The children I spoke to after had thought that maths was just what we did at school and now want to make lists of what they do at home. They said you had made maths more fun!

– William Davis Primary School

We spoke to Dave Richards, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Capital One, and Numeracy Volunteer, to find out more about why Capital One wanted to get involved, and why he himself volunteered for the programme.

Why did Capital One want to fund the pilot of our volunteering programme?

The volunteering programme, as part of a wider suite we have with National Numeracy, is born out of how ingrained engagement is in Capital One UK and how we love to get our associates involved in our community partnership. Volunteering is a real key part of our culture. When we started discussions with National Numeracy about the broader partnership and were told that there was this opportunity to fund and help create this volunteering programme, we saw that as a great opportunity to engage our employees and get them involved right at the coal face of the issue that we're trying to address here.

Why did you choose to volunteer yourself?

Being a CSR practitioner, I think it's important to live and breathe the work that you do. It's important to me as an individual to have the experience myself of volunteering because it helps me articulate how it looks and feels, and what sense of reward you get from it, when I'm recruiting other volunteers from across the organisation. So I try to volunteer with as many of our programmes as I can.

Also it was a subject that I feel personally passionate about – particularly in how I've been on my own journey of number confidence. I wanted to talk to young people about that journey in the hope that it would inspire them and help them realise that you don't need a “maths brain” to be able to get on with numbers, and that numbers are so intrinsically important to all aspects of your life as you go into adulthood.

How did you find the training session that National Numeracy provides for the volunteers?

The training session brilliantly sets out the practicalities of volunteering. You’re working with young people in schools where certain things need to be thought about, so the information around safeguarding is pitched just right. And the practicalities of what the next steps are is pitched perfectly – and you cram all of that into a 90-minute session that’s lively, engaging, and gives opportunity for the volunteers to speak about their own experiences and ask questions.

It really brings to life the wider picture of the numeracy issues within the UK, and sets the scene of why it’s important to address numeracy as a societal issue. What I also really liked is that it gave dos and don’ts around how to pitch certain things; what really stuck with me was around rewarding effort. It’s not about being top of the class, it’s about trying your best.

How did you feel before delivering your first assembly?

A mixed bag of emotions, but I felt confident I was stepping into a safe space. I felt enormously proud as well, because when I did my first assembly I knew it was the very first assembly happening as part of the programme. I felt an enormous sense of privilege that it got to be me doing that.

What gave me massive reassurance and helped me manage it perfectly was the level of support and resources from the National Numeracy team. The template depth that you get, the different slides – you’ve got a fantastic visual aid. 

I felt like I was set up for success.

– Dave Richards

The school were fantastic – the pupils were engaged, they listened, and asked brilliant questions. What was a 20-minute assembly could have been a 45-minute assembly with the amount of questions they had!

How did your first classroom session go?

It went brilliantly! The school was super organised and followed National Numeracy’s instructions really well, and the room had been set up for the session to work. From a volunteer’s perspective that’s a really reassuring space to step into because it’s teacher led.

How do you think this programme has impacted Capital One – as a team, with all of the volunteers getting involved, and as a business?

The partnership with National Numeracy has been through a period of immense change. As an organisation, we’ve worked remotely for a couple of years during the pandemic, come back to a hybrid working model, and in-person volunteering hasn’t been able to happen for some time. Whilst there are other programmes we’ve reintroduced, having something new has been fantastic – not just because of its newness, but also because it’s on a subject that many people here feel deeply passionate about.

But beyond that, the impact it’s had on our organisation chimes with the idea of having a “number natter” which was part of National Numeracy Day last year – all across the year at Capital One people are speaking really openly about their relationship with maths and numbers.

I’ve sensed this shift in dialogue and narrative around the whole issue; people want to get involved because they want to support young people and the partnership, but also within the organisation people are wanting to support each other. And that’s just a lovely place to be.

What do you think the volunteers have gained from taking part?

Volunteering is a great opportunity to develop yourself and put skills to the test in a really safe space – such as public speaking, stepping out of your comfort zone, and clearly communicating to a group that you need to adjust your language for.

It’s enabled connection to be built across the business as well – there’ve been people who’ve never connected before because they don’t work together day-to-day, but because they’re volunteering they bond and build relationships.

Ultimately this is about understanding that you can, through doing something quite simple in terms of telling your story, have a really profound impact on a key societal issue.

– Dave Richards

There are going to be young people in the audience that you talk to that will really take something from what you've said. An associate reached out to me to say, “I think you did a talk in my child’s school last week, and ever since they’ve been crazy about maths!”

What would you say to other organisations thinking of getting involved with supporting National Numeracy and this volunteering programme?

Do it! National Numeracy is a fantastic organisation to work with. You are absolutely punching above your weight in terms of the message that you’re delivering, the campaigns that you drive, the way you support corporate organisations – the way that you really listen.

The word that comes to mind is very much partnership. It’s not just “we’re trying to do this piece of work and need some funding to make that happen” – you want to work together to create partnership opportunities, experiences and programmes that meet both of our needs and goals.

If you’re looking to engage with an organisation that absolutely has an approach of shared-value, then National Numeracy should be someone that you’re talking to.

– Dave Richards

As someone that has worked in corporate social responsibility for well over ten years, it means a lot to me to be able to have that two-way dialogue, so that we’re helping solve collective problems.

We’ve been so proud and privileged to be a founder organisation to support the creation of this programme.

If you are a primary school based in Nottingham or London and would like to take part in our Numeracy Corporate Volunteering Programme, please complete the form to request an activity, or email [email protected] for more information.

Activity request form

If you are a business or organisation wanting to know more about the Numeracy Corporate Volunteering Programme and working in partnership, please email [email protected].