15 May is National Numeracy Day so we met with Alex Mackay, a team leader within East Lothian Works, to find out more about free numeracy support available for adults in the county.

I get so much personal satisfaction from helping adults to grow, change and build their confidence.

Alex admits there are a lot of reasons that an adult might decide to tackle their number skills: “Quite often there’s a change in circumstances: children starting school or getting older and bringing homework back. They want to feel more confident to help their children. Or it can be something in work has changed,” she explains.

East Lothian Works offers one-to-one or small groups where adults over 16 can come and work on their numeracy skills. There’s a wide range of options from basic skills (adding and subtraction) right up to national 4 qualifications. The focus is on the individual and their personal goals with the support there as long as it is needed.

Alex started as a volunteer literacy and numeracy tutor when she returned to work after having her children. It was something she loved and led to paid employment, further study including a postgraduate diploma and, eventually, her current position. “I loved it,” she admits. “I thought ‘this is me, this is the career I want’. I get so much personal satisfaction from helping adults to grow, change and build their confidence. It’s the little things that can make a big difference to people.”

The volunteer tutors play a vital role in supporting adult learners to gain skills and confidence and are there to celebrate the successes along the way. “Quite often you see those ‘lightbulb moments’ when it all falls into place and they think: “I can do it; I’m not as bad as I thought I was”. Alex explains.

As part of National Numeracy Day, adults are being encouraged to take part in an online challenge to check and improve their numeracy skills. The Scottish Government and Education Scotland are lead supporters of the day. Alex feels it’s a useful way to start conversations about improving number confidence. “It’s great because it gets people thinking about numeracy, learning not to be afraid about it. I’d encourage anyone who wants to improve their skills to take the next step and get in touch with us.”

Take the National Numeracy Challenge or get in touch with East Lothian Works on 01620 827262 to find out more about how they can help you.

Meet us Wednesday - Alex Mackay, team leader at East Lothian Works
Published: Tuesday, 14th May 2019