Manchester charity named best not-for-profit to work for in the UK

Andy Hawthorne (centre) and wife Michele
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A Manchester charity has been named the best not-for-profit organisation to work for in the country.

The Message Trust, a Christian evangelical charity working with disaffected and disadvantaged young people, came first in the The Sunday Times’ annual Best Companies To Work For survey in the not-for-profit category – up from second place last year.

The  award was presented to founder Andy Hawthorne at a gala dinner in London last week.

Andy started The Message in 1992, having previously run a fashion accessories business with his brother Simon.

His interest in youth work was triggered when he needed more staff to meet a surge in demand for one of their products.

“They [the job centre] sent the lads who tended to have come straight out of the local young offender institution. And we took on 30-odd young lads over a very short period to make this big surge in orders. And these lads were a nightmare. Not only was there vandalism, violence, and graffiti, but we felt like there were break-ins virtually every night.”

The result was Message to Schools, formed with the express purpose of taking the gospel to young people in schools through hip-hop and dance music, and the band World Wide Message Tribe, formed with singer Mark Penells

They went on to record successful albums which brought international recognition and critical acclaim.

Amongst Wolves

The Tribe disbanded in 2004, but The Message’s schools work has multiplied with new bands and creative teams to reach young people in high schools in Greater Manchester and beyond.

In 2011, Andy was awarded an OBE for his work with young people.

“We were so honoured last year to come second and never would have dreamed of being able to top that,” said Andy, who also collected a special award for Best Leader for the second year running.

“It’s incredible to think that we’ve gone from working out of a spare bedroom to the global movement we are today, reaching hundreds of thousands of people a year.”

In the Best 100 Companies to Work For survey for businesses, Knutsford-based New World Trading Co, the company behind The Botanist and The Oast House, came seventh, up from ninth last year.

Other local companies featured in the survey were UK Fast (9th), ANS Group (18th), Hilti GB (23rd), JMW (25th), Auto Trader (32nd),  The Alchemist (36th), Zen Internet (44th), and AJ Bell (86th).

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