Nat Wei, Baron Wei

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The Lord Wei
Official portrait of Lord Wei crop 2.jpg
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
3 June 2010
Life Peerage
Personal details
Nathanael Ming-Yan Wei

(1977-01-19) 19 January 1977 (age 45)
Watford, Hertfordshire, England
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Cynthia Wei
ChildrenMicah and Ethan Wei
Residence(s)Shoreditch, London, England
EducationBA (Hons) French and German
Alma materJesus College, Oxford
OccupationMember of the House of Lords
Social entrepreneur

Nathanael Ming-Yan Wei, Baron Wei (traditional Chinese: 韋鳴恩; simplified Chinese: 韦鸣恩; pinyin: Wéi Míng'ēn; Jyutping: Wai5 Ming4 Jan1)[1] (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 Hong Kong origin to have become a member of the House of Lords, sitting as a Conservative, and was the youngest member of the House from 2010 to 2016.[2] He was also previously an adviser to the UK Government on their Big Society project.[3]

Lord Wei is the founding partner of the Shaftesbury Partnership,[4][5] the founder of Maker Life, a member of the founding team of Teach First[4] and a former adviser at Absolute Return For Kids.[6] He is also a former fellow of the Young Foundation.[7] and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. Lord Wei had also served as the Chairman of the Conservative Friends of the Chinese, but stepped down in August 2020.

Early life[edit]

Lord Wei is the son of Hong Kong parents[8] with ethnic Hakka ancestry.[9][10][11] Wei's father was a pastor who moved to Britain in the 1970s.[citation needed] He was born in Watford and grew up in Milton Keynes and Tooting, London.[citation needed]


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),[12] where some of the pupils snorted cocaine and even burned down a wing of the school, and bullied him for taking his studies seriously.[13] However, in a later account of his school life, Wei appeared to contradict this account, stating that as he 'got good grades, but was also sporty', he was never targeted or bullied.[14] The only pupil from his school year to attend the University of Oxford, he studied Modern Languages at Jesus College.[15] He has a working knowledge of Cantonese, French and German.[citation needed]

Life and career[edit]

After graduating from Jesus College, Oxford, Wei worked at McKinsey & Company for three years,[16] where he came to know Brett Wigdortz, who founded Teach First in 2002.[citation needed] 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,[17] a programme seeking to attract, develop and place high-potential teachers and future leaders of urban schools.

Founding the Shaftesbury Partnership[edit]

Around the same time as helping to set up Future Leaders, in early 2006, Wei founded the Shaftesbury Partnership,[4] 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,[18] 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.[19]

In 2011, the Shaftesbury Partnership working with Johnson & Johnson and Queens Nursing Institute and Buckinghamshire New University piloted NurseFirst[20] – 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[21] 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.

Social reform[edit]

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[22] where he worked one day a week,[14] and advised the Government on all aspects of taking forward the Big Society and driving implementation across government.

Press Release: General statement in response to Nat Wei’s nomination to House of Lords and appointment as advisor to the Government on Big Society

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.[23][24] 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.[25]

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. 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.[26][27] 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."[28] Previously, Lord Wei had also cited personal financial difficulties that he had suffered as a result of the demands of his part-time position.[29]

Chinese heritage[edit]

Lord Wei's ancestry can be traced back to a village in Zhuhai, on the southern coast of Canton (now 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.[27]

His focus in working with East Asia comprises now of work within the Conservative Party[30] 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[31] of which he was the vice-Chair (special focus on Hong Kong), and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Trade and Investment[32] 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. The All Party Parliamentary Group for East Asian Business was 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,[33] a Manchester-China Forum[34] 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.[citation needed]


In 2013, Lord Wei was invited to become a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

In 2015, Lord Wei became a member of the House of Lords EU Internal Affairs Sub-Committee.[35] He stepped down from this Committee in June 2018.

Personal life[edit]

Lord Wei is a Christian.[36] He is married and has two sons.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ UK Parliament
  3. ^ "Government launches Big Society programme" (Press release). No 10 (British Prime Minister's Office). 18 May 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "Pass notes No 2,921: Lord Wei". The Guardian. London. 2 February 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
  5. ^ "Who we are". The Shaftesbury Partnership. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  6. ^ Ramesh, Randeep (22 June 2010). "Interview with Mr Big Society". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
  7. ^ "Young Foundation fellow appointed new advisor to Government". The Young Foundation. 19 May 2010. Archived from the original on 30 September 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
  8. ^ "Lords Hansard text for 16 Jun 201016 Jun 2010 (pt 0006)".
  9. ^ "There is a saying, in Hakka, When everyone collects firewood, the flames rise high".
  10. ^ "33岁华人新贵——韦鸣恩". Archived from the original on 16 October 2014.
  11. ^ Ramesh, Randeep (22 June 2010). "Interview with Mr Big Society". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  12. ^ End of an Era as School's Out for the Last Time Published by: Date: 21 July 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2012[dead link]
  13. ^ "Nat Wei in Third Sector". Archived from the original on 26 March 2012.
  14. ^ a b "Lord Wei in Milton Keynes, Series 1, A Place Called Home - BBC Radio 4". BBC. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  15. ^ Ramesh, Randeep (22 June 2010). "Nat Wei Big Society Adviser Conservative". The Guardian. London.
  16. ^ "Lord Nat Wei, Government Adviser for Big Society". Cabinet Office. Archived from the original on 5 January 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  17. ^ Curtis, Polly (2 January 2007). "Preparing for power". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  18. ^ Rentoul, John (22 November 2009). "Like it or not, there it is. A Tory policy". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 18 June 2022. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  19. ^ Mahadevan, Janaki (2 April 2009). "Charity to test the concept of National Citizen Service". Archived from the original on 21 May 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  20. ^ "NurseFirst".
  21. ^ Nurse First two years on (PDF) (Report). 31 May 2013.
  22. ^ "Big Society champion appointed Government advisor" (Press release). Cabinet Office. 18 May 2010. Archived from the original on 8 July 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  23. ^ "No. 59437". The London Gazette. 3 June 2010. p. 10273.
  24. ^ "House of Lords debates (3 June 2010, 11:00 am): Introduction: Lord Wei". Hansard : House of Lords : 3 June 2010 : Column 365. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ "PM's Big Society tsar stands down". BBC News. 24 May 2011.
  27. ^ a b "Nat Wei's website".
  28. ^ "Lord Wei stands down" (Press release).
  29. ^ a b "How my top government job left me almost penniless and unable to". Evening Standard. 4 February 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  30. ^ "Conservative Friends of the Chinese".
  31. ^ "All Party Parliamentary China Group".
  32. ^ "All Party Parliamentary Group for Trade and Investment". Archived from the original on 7 March 2014. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  33. ^ "The Wei Report". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  34. ^ "Manchester China Forum".
  35. ^ "EU Internal Affairs Sub-Committee".
  36. ^ Ramesh, Randeep (23 June 2010). "Interview with Mr Big Society". The Guardian.
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
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