Nat Wei, Baron Wei
|The Right Honourable
The Lord Wei
|Born||Nathanael Ming-Yan Wei
19 January 1977
Watford, Hertfordshire, England
|Residence||Shoreditch, London, England|
|Alma mater||Sir Frank Markham Community School, Milton Keynes
Jesus College, Oxford
|Occupation||Member of the House of Lords
Nathanael Ming-Yan Wei, Baron Wei (traditional Chinese: 韋鳴恩; simplified Chinese: 韦鸣恩; Mandarin Pinyin: Wéi Míng'ēn; Jyutping: Wai5 Ming4 Jan1) (born 19 January 1977), also known as Nat Wei, is a social entrepreneur, interested in social reform, the youngest member of the House of Lords (as of 30 September 2011[ref]), and is the first British born person of Chinese origin in history to have become a member of it. He was previously an adviser to the UK Government on their Big Society project.
Lord Wei is the founding and former partner of the Shaftesbury Partnership, a member of the founding team of Teach First and a former adviser at Absolute Return For Kids. He is a former fellow of the Young Foundation.
Lord Wei is the son of Hong Kong parents with Chinese ancestry. Wei's father was a pastor who moved to the UK in the 1970s. He was born in Watford and grew up in Milton Keynes and Tooting, London.
Lord Wei was educated at the Sir Frank Markham Community School, a state comprehensive school in Milton Keynes (since closed, and replaced by the Milton Keynes Academy on the same site), where some of the pupils snorted cocaine and even burned down a wing of the school, and bullied him for taking his studies seriously. The only pupil from his school year to attend the University of Oxford, he studied Modern Languages at Jesus College. He is also actively learning Mandarin at the London School of Economics. He is fluent in English, and has a working knowledge of Cantonese, French and German.
Life and career
After graduating from Jesus College, Oxford, Wei worked at McKinsey & Company for three years, where he came to know Brett Wigdortz, who founded Teach First in 2002. In 2006, after three years at Teach First and a short stint in social venture capital, Wei joined the children's charity Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) where he helped to set up Future Leaders, a programme seeking to attract, develop and place high-potential teachers and future leaders of urban schools.
Founding the Shaftesbury Partnership
Around the same time as helping to set up Future Leaders, in early 2006, Wei founded the Shaftesbury Partnership, an organisation which seeks to emulate the great social reformers of the Victorian era by creating scalable social reforms. The Shaftesbury Partnership are currently working on a number of projects around housing, unemployment and healthcare. Through the Shaftesbury Partnership, Wei co-founded The Challenge Network, an independent charity which exists to "inspire and connect people to strengthen their community". The Challenge Network runs a two month civic service programme called The Challenge which has attracted strong interest from both government and opposition.
Responding to the emerging unemployment crisis, in early 2009 the Shaftesbury Partnership researched the history of effective interventions in labour markets. This research highlighted the potential of the franchise model to create sustainable jobs and businesses. FranchisingWorks is an innovative programme to raise awareness and understanding of franchising and to facilitate the introduction of prospective franchisees to reputable franchisors to create significant numbers of new jobs with the consequent social and economic benefits to local communities. They are currently working with a number of cities to foster partnerships between public, private and third sectors that can support the creation of multiple 'start-up' businesses using franchise formats.
Government adviser on Big Society
On 18 May 2010 at the launch of the New Coalition Government policies on Big Society to a group of community leaders, Lord Wei was appointed as an unpaid Government Adviser on Big Society. He was based at the Office for Civil Society in the Cabinet Office.
Wei advised the Government on all aspects of taking forward the Big Society and driving implementation across government. During the initial phase, he worked on designing the approach to building the Big Society and engaged with civil society groups, alongside Francis Maude MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General and Nick Hurd MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Charities, Social Enterprise and Volunteering.
At the event, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced that Wei would also be appointed a life peer. He was introduced in the House of Lords on 3 June 2010 as Baron Wei, of Shoreditch in the London Borough of Hackney. He is the third person of Chinese ethnic origin to become a member of the House of Lords, after Baroness Dunn (who is not domiciled in the UK) and the late Lord Chan, and the first-ever member of Chinese origin to be British born. He is also one of the youngest people to have been made a life peer, at the age of 33.
Due to his role as Government Advisor Lord Wei has stepped down from any direct, formal involvement in the organisations he has previously been involved with. These include the Shaftesbury Partnership, the ACT Network charity, ARK and the Big Society Network.
In February 2011 it was reported in the press that Wei had reduced his voluntary hours from three days a week to two. He explained that, "The idea was that I'd come on a paid basis, but because the quota for paid government advisers was full, at the last moment it turned out to be unpaid. I committed myself to two days a week and ended up doing three, but in the autumn I asked to go back to two days", and that he needed to balance "...making a living, seeing my family, and helping to change society..."
On 24 May 2011, Lord Wei announced his decision to step down from his role as Government Advisor on Big Society. The Prime Minister, David Cameron said ‘Nat has worked incredibly hard over two years to help develop policies that support the Big Society. He has played an important role in delivering key initiatives like Community Organisers, National Citizen Service, and the Big Society Bank. I wish him every success in his new role with the Community Foundation Network.” 
Lord Wei has now joined the Community Foundation Network as a volunteer advisor to help drive the practical development of Big Society ideas in communities.
Lord Wei’s ancestry can be traced back to a village in Zhuhai, on the southern coast of the Guangdong province. His ancestral home is two villages away from that of Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the Republic of China, about whom incidentally, Wei enjoys reading and learning.
As the only current ethnic Chinese peer in The House of Lords, and the first member of Chinese ethnic origin to have been born and brought up in the UK, Lord Wei takes an interest in British Chinese community issues, particularly in social reform. He is also interested in economic and cultural ties between the UK and China.
In his blog entry after his trip to China, Lord Wei has stated that ‘…of particular personal interest to me as a British citizen with a Chinese background: how Chinese companies as they globalise could build businesses and brands with partners in places like the UK that are more environmentally and socially conscious; how different Chinese cities could partner with, exchange experiences, and learn from their counterparts and from the social sector in the UK and the West to bring Big Society type innovations to China for mutual benefit; and how the Chinese diaspora globally, including in the UK (and Hong Kong), could be mobilised to play a more prominent bridging role as civic entrepreneurs to strengthen economic, cultural, and social ties between countries like the UK and China.’ 
Lord Wei is currently speaking to the British Chinese community to better understand the issues it is facing.
In June 2011, Lord Wei was elected as the Treasurer to the Chinese in Britain APPG and joined the All Party Parliamentary China Group.
In September 2011, Lord Wei was elected as the Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for East Asian Business.
Lord Wei is a Christian. He is married and lives with his family in Shoreditch, in London. His father is the Rev. Edward Wei, a pastor and missionary of the Chinese Overseas Christian Mission in the UK.
- BBC 中文网 (17 Jun 2010). "視頻：英國華裔男爵韋鳴恩專訪一" [Video: British Chinese Baron Wei Ming-yan Exclusive Interview 1]. BBC 中文网. BBC. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
- "Government launches Big Society programme" (Press release). No 10 (British Prime Minister's Office). 18 May 2010. Retrieved 2011-02-06.
- Lord Wei (2010-07-01). "Letter to Francis Maude : Acceptance of appointment as Government adviser for Big Society". Big Society Network. Retrieved 2011-02-06.
- The Guardian (2 February 2011). "Pass notes No 2,921: Lord Wei". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 30 September 2011.
- Ramesh, Randeep (22 Jun 2010). "Interview with Mr Big Society". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 30 September 2011.
- The Young Foundation (19 May 2010). "Young Foundation fellow appointed new advisor to Government". The Young Foundation. The Young Foundation. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
- Ramesh, Randeep (2010-06-22). "Interview with Mr Big Society". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2011-02-06.
- End of an Era as School's Out for the Last Time Published by: MiltonKeynes.co.uk Date: 21 July 2009. Retrieved: 27 November 2012
- "Nat Wei in Third Sector".
- Ramesh, Randeep (2010-06-22). "Nat Wei Big Society Adviser Conservative". The Guardian (London).
- "Lord Nat Wei, Government Adviser for Big Society". Cabinet Office. Retrieved 2011-02-06.
- Curtis, Polly (2007-01-02). "Preparing for power". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2011-02-06.
- Rentoul, John (2009-11-22). "Like it or not, there it is. A Tory policy". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2011-02-06.
- Mahadevan, Janaki (2009-04-02). "Charity to test the concept of National Citizen Service". Retrieved 2011-02-06.
- "Big Society champion appointed Government advisor" (Press release). Cabinet Office. 2010-05-18. Retrieved 2011-02-06.
- The London Gazette: . 3 June 2010.
- "House of Lords debates (3 June 2010, 11:00 am): Introduction: Lord Wei". Hansard : House of Lords : 3 Jun 2010 : Column 365. Retrieved 2011-02-06.
- Lord Redesdale was slightly younger than Wei when he was made a life peer in 2000; however he had sat in the House of Lords as a hereditary peer prior to the reforms of 1999. Randall, Nicholas (28 May 2010). "Youngest peer to take his seat". The House Magazine. Retrieved 2011-02-13.
- Cohen, David (4 February 2011). "How my top government job left me almost penniless and unable to support my family". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2011-02-04.
- "PM's Big Society tsar stands down". BBC News. 24 May 2011.
- "Lord Wei stands down" (Press release).
- "Nat Wei's blog".
- "China News".
- "ABP News".
- "Witnessing China's rapidly changing society".
- EU Chinese Journal.
- Official website
- The Shaftesbury Partnership
- Absolute Return for Kids
- The Challenge
- Teach First
- Future Leaders