On the 25th September 2023, We Love MCR Charity finally welcomed our latest permanent Head of Charity to the team - Simon Wright.
Simon comes to us with a wealth of experience in the charity sector and, just as importantly, of Manchester itself. We thought no better way to introduce him to the wider We Love MCR family than with a Q&A! Get stuck into the conversation with him and Nick, our Comms & Fundraising Officer, below.
Alright Simon, welcome to the team! It's fair to say you've had a busy first week or so as our new Head of Charity... What are your first impressions of We Love MCR in that time?
Firstly, it’s just great to be here and joining We Love MCR at an exciting time where we have recently staged our biggest annual fundraising event, The Heart and Hope Dinner. Seeing the essence of our work captured in a really uplifting and inspiring event was the best possible start I could have wished for. To raise £230k on the evening was just phenomenal and to announce a new strategic partnership with Together was the cherry on top!
It’s already set my mind thinking around how we can keep building the future impact of We Love MCR and really deliver upon our mission of supporting more young people and giving tangible outcomes for the diverse communities we engage with across Manchester. I’ve loved meeting all of our excellent trustees, stakeholders, generous supporters and hearing them speak so passionately about our work. Over the coming weeks I’m looking to connect up with our current partners and also start to build some new relationships with organisations that can support our vital work in the years ahead.
"We Love Manchester" is a motto for us, as much as it is our name - what from your time in the city has made you really get to feel and understand that phrase?
I’ve spent all of my adult life in Manchester, it’s the place where I really began to understand myself and shape my early career. So, I have grown up here, met my wife, settled and now have three children that were born in Manchester. The city has given me a lot, it has fuelled my passion for sport and the dramatic evolution of the cityscape has really captured my attention. Manchester is a diverse and friendly city – welcome to everyone. Our community and civic pride always stands out and unites what is now a city that has a confident global outlook. I love Manchester and it continues to fascinate me, which is why I’m always proud to be an adopted Mancunian.
You've worked in the charity sector before, how have these experiences shaped you and prepared you for this position?
Prior to joining We Love MCR I enjoyed over 4 years with The Prince’s Trust and learnt a great deal in my role as a Head of Business Development for the UK’s leading youth charity. Just like We Love MCR, The Prince’s Trust’s mission is to improve the lives of young people, to help the build confidence, overcome challenges and thrive so there are some thematic similarities I can reflect and implement. I’ve worked on developing and delivering new multi-year partnerships across multiple sectors as well as being a key link to building relationships with supporters, stakeholders and regional committees.
All of this will be fundamental to how I approach my wider remit as Head of Charity with We Love MCR. I still feel I have lots of developing and growing to do so this role is an exciting challenge for me in terms of taking the organisation forward in the next stage of it’s growth and development. I want to learn more from other third sector and youth organisations in the City of Manchester so I’m looking forward to connecting and collaborating with leaders in these organisations so that we all play our collective role in the city.
What's one thing that impressed you about We Love MCR before arriving here, and where do you see We Love MCR heading under your leadership?
We Love MCR is a small but mighty charity family. The scope and impact that we’re already making through our fantastic grants programmes is in my view pretty unique. I’ve already been amazed learning more about the life changing difference we have made and are continuing to make across all areas of the city.
I’m really motivated to continue our growth in a sustainable way so we can build momentum in how we effectively deliver our financial grants to young people and community-based organisations. I also want to impact our identity in the city, raise our profile and share more meaningful stories about our success into the business community via our network of existing partners and generous supporters.
Thanks for answering Simon, the team is really excited to work with you gong forward. Now the heavy questions are out of the way, time for a quickfire round! Favourite area of the city?
Favourite historical Mancunian?
Favourite food/drink venue?
Greens West Didsbury and Track Brewery
Favourite Manchester band/artist - if any!
A moment in Manchester's history that resonates most with you?
The Commonwealth Games 2002