Nat Wei, Baron Wei
|The Lord Wei of Shoreditch|
|Member of the House of Lords
28 May 2010
|Born||Nathanael Ming-Yan Wei
19 January 1977
Watford, Hertfordshire, England
|Residence||Shoreditch, London, England|
|Education||BA (Hons) French and German|
|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 of Shoreditch (traditional Chinese: 韋鳴恩; simplified Chinese: 韦鸣恩; pinyin: Wéi Míng'ēn; Jyutping: Wai5 Ming4 Jan1) (born 19 January 1977), also known as Nat Wei, is an English social entrepreneur with an interest in social reform. He is the first British-born person of Chinese origin to have become a member of the House of Lords, sitting as a Conservative. He was also the youngest member of the House from 2010 to 2016. 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. and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. Lord Wei is also the Chairman of the Conservative Friends of the Chinese.
Lord Wei is the son of Hongkong parents with Hakka Chinese ancestry. Wei's father was a pastor who moved to Britain 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. However, in a later account of his school life, Baron Wei appeared to contradict this account, stating that as he 'got good grades, but was also sporty', he was never targeted or bullied. 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, 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.
In 2011, the Shaftesbury Partnership working with Johnson & Johnson and Queens Nursing Institute and Buckinghamshire New University piloted NurseFirst – a clinicians in the community development programme to produce a network of innovators who can create real change for patients, people and communities. In 2013, a report on the pilot, 2 years on, concluded that first cohort of clinicians showed quantitative and qualitative improvements in their confidence, their leadership skills, their ability to innovate and their ability to make clinical innovation happen. They produced financially sustainable business plans for £1.2 million of cash releasing savings over 3 years. The programme is now being scaled up.
For the individual, retirement – like many other life transitions – can be a challenging time, involving difficult lifestyle changes and choices. This is often compounded by other transitions such as starting to care for grandchildren, relocation, illness, and bereavement. Against the current backdrop of austerity and rising health and social care needs, there is an urgent need to support retirees in managing these transitions. Since summer 2013, after the publication of a report by Lord Wei entitled, "Next steps: Life transitions and retirement in the 21st century” supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Shaftesbury Partnership have been developing a Retirement Transition Initiative, designed to equip people who are around the retirement transition with the information, networks, resilience, and opportunities they need to continue purposeful activity post-retirement. It will aim to improve the economic outcomes, health, and wellbeing of both the individual and their community.
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 where he worked one day a week, and advised the Government on all aspects of taking forward the Big Society and driving implementation across government.
At the launch 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; the third person of Hong Kong ancestry to become a House of Lords member, after Baroness Dunn and the late Lord Kadoorie; 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 stepped down from any direct, formal involvement in the organisations he had previously been involved with and on 24 May 2011, Lord Wei announced his decision to step down from his role as Government Advisor on Big Society to help as a volunteer to drive the practical development of Big Society ideas in communities. 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." Previously, Lord Wei had also cited personal financial difficulties that he had suffered as a result of the demands of his part-time position.
Subsequently, Lord Wei has been involved in a number of initiatives involving networks of individuals who have a vision to improve society, address poverty, and tackle injustice. These have been in three main areas; work to establish training and research to help people, particularly from or interested in having entrepreneurial, financial, and business backgrounds to become active and effective social reformers finding and promoting scalable solutions for today's social challenges, work to harness the power of faith based action, work to promote philanthropy among corporate business owners, to share wealth through sharing ownership to tackle poverty.
Lord Wei's ancestry can be traced back to a village in Zhuhai, on the southern coast of the Guangdong. 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. He is the most senior ethnic Chinese politician in the European Union.
Lord Wei states "Global growth has been powered by and will continue to be boosted by Asia, particularly China and other parts of the region including increasingly South East Asia. Much of Britain and other Western countries future jobs and growth will come from engaging with the East by harnessing its investment and entering its markets.”
His focus in working with East Asia comprises now of work within the Conservative Party to help engage ethnic East Asian voters and help them gain the voice, representation and participation that they need as Britain's third largest minority group.
Up to July 2015, he worked in Parliament through the All Party Parliamentary Group APPG for East Asian Business which he chaired, the All Party Parliamentary China Group of which he was the vice-Chair (special focus on Hong Kong), and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Trade and Investment of which he was treasurer to promote better trade and political and cultural links between the UK and East Asia and work to encourage the next generation of East Asians and other diaspora to develop the leadership skills to play a greater role in public life, in society, and business, and in harnessing the resources that East Asians have globally and locally both financial and non-financial to address global and local problems today. These groups were discontinued after the May 2015 election.
In 2012, Manchester local government commissioned Lord Wei to write a report on how Manchester can best engage with China. Following that Report, a Manchester-China Forum was established which hosts regular activities to help member businesses share information and knowledge, including seminars, meet-the-buyer events, and other networking opportunities. Lord Wei continues to work as a non-executive director of the Forum.
In 2013, Lord Wei was invited to become a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.
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Lord Wei is a Christian. He is married and lives with his family in a council flat on an estate in Shoreditch, London. His father is the Reverend Edward Wei, a pastor and missionary of the Chinese Overseas Christian Mission in the UK.
- BBC 中文网 (17 June 2010). "視頻：英國華裔男爵韋鳴恩專訪一" [Video: British Chinese baron Nat Wei Exclusive Interview 1]. BBC 中文网. BBC. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
- UK Parliament
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- 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 13 February 2011.
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- "Manchester China Forum".
- "EU Internal Affairs Sub-Committee".
- Ramesh, Randeep (23 June 2010). "Interview with Mr Big Society". The Guardian.
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- Official website
- The Shaftesbury Partnership
- Absolute Return for Kids
- The Challenge
- Teach First
- Future Leaders
- Conservative Friends of the Chinese
- All Party Parliamentary China Group
- All Party Parliamentary Group for Trade and Investment