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Manchester MBA student works with homeless charity Barnabus to produce fundraising calendar

Mike Blair

Mike Blair, Full-Time MBA Class of 2021 is working with Barnabus, a homelessness charity based in Manchester to help them raise vital funds. Submit a photo and personal story about Manchester to Barnabus by 31 October for a chance to be in the charity’s 2021 calendar.

What led you to work with Barnabus?

When I first arrived in Manchester to start my MBA, I was saddened to witness homelessness in the city. I found it particularly challenging through the winter because Manchester doesn’t have the most forgiving climate at the best of times, so I could not imagine the difficulty that these individuals must go through on a day-by-day, night-by-night basis.

In February I remember reading something that really struck a chord with me: “We should judge a society by how they treat their most vulnerable citizens”. At that point, I thought that if this really is a benchmark of how our society is being judged, then we would score poorly. As someone who has been fortunate enough to be afforded some of the best features of what our society has to offer, I have a responsibility to give something back. It is a blight on our society that the number of people who are sleeping without a permanent shelter is increasing rather than decreasing. And with the current economic climate, this looks to be a trend which does not look likely to reverse any time soon.

One of the underlying themes that I have taken from my MBA so far is the changing way that consumers now view the responsibility of businesses within wider society. Increasingly, businesses are being viewed as vehicles for driving improvements in wider society rather than just profit-maximising entities. And I personally think that if we are going to be asking that of businesses, we should also be asking that of ourselves as individuals too.

What does Barnabus do?

Barnabus is a fantastic charity that does some amazing work, helping those most vulnerable in our society. As well as running a drop-in centre in Manchester to provide support and assistance for the homeless, Barnabus’ underlying mission is to end homelessness in the city by working with the city council, the police and other homelessness organisations. They empower people to build new lives through finding a new home.  

What do you do for Barnabus?

When I first started working with Barnabus, they asked me to look at ways that they could raise additional funds because, as with most charities during the Coronavirus pandemic, they have been unable to hold their usual fundraising events. Therefore, working with some of the team at Barnabus we brainstormed the idea of putting together a charity calendar for 2021. We decided that to help raise awareness of the calendar and the work that Barnabus does, it would be good to put on a competition where members of the public could submit entries which tell a personal story about what Manchester means to them. LOVE Creative, an award winning design agency in Manchester, has  kindly offered its services to help with the production of the calendar so the end piece is going to be really visually striking.

I really believe that Manchester has a unique creative spirit and a real community feel. I am hoping that we are not only going to be able to produce something that looks amazing, but we are going to be able to tell twelve amazing stories through the calendar. 

I have been working as a Project Manager for the calendar, bringing all the stakeholders together to plan, design and then eventually sell the calendar. We are hoping to raise enough through corporate sponsorship so that all the costs of the calendar are covered allowing 100% of the money collected from selling the calendar to go to Barnabus. All of the details of how to enter or buy the calendar can be found at the bottom of this article.

How has the MBA helped you in the role?

As part of the MBA we undertake three consultancy projects, of which I have now completed two. The work I am doing for Barnabus is very much like these and my MBA experience so far has taught me the importance of effective project plan design, stakeholder management, and different sales and marketing channels. However, the most transformative skill that the MBA has taught me is less tangible: mindset. As well as giving me a clearer role about my role within society, I am also more aware that to affect change you actually have to go out there and change things. And whilst that might sound obvious, the MBA has given me the confidence to spend less time theorising and more time actually doing! 

How can you get involved?

To enter please email containing:

  • Your photograph (A4 @ 300dpi)
  • The location of the photograph
  • A short sentence explaining what the photo means to you, and why/how it represents your Manchester (15 words max)
  • Your full name
  • Your contact number

Entries are limited  to two per person. The closing date is 31/10/2020. Winners will be contacted during November via email and/or phone.

Two  free copies of the calendar will be awarded to each winning entrant, other copies will be available to purchase online and in independent outlets around Manchester for £10 per calendar.

For full competition details, please visit