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Photography by Katie O'Neill

Rose Marley is the CEO Co-operatives UK, founder of SharpFutures, Beyond the Music, Manchester Together and Our Pass. Manchester-based social enterprise SharpFutures supports diverse, young talent into creative, digital and tech industries. Rose was also appointed by Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, to head-up the OurPass campaign to improve local travel opportunities and raise aspirations for young people in Manchester.


She is currently the chair of the Social Enterprise Advisory Group for the Greater Manchester - creating the conditions for social enterprises and co-operatives to thrive in the region, a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) as well as an advisory board member for SODA (School of Digital Arts) 

Born in North Manchester in 1973, Rose was self-employed from a young age, cutting her teeth in the music business in the ‘Madchester’ era before focusing on social enterprise, motivated by the lack of social mobility in the creative industries and a desire to make a difference. Rose was the founding COO of the Manchester City Council development’s The Sharp Project and Space Studios, whose clients include the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky television and a host of independents in tech and creative design.

Rose chose Boggart Hole Clough in Blackley as the location for the photography, close to where she was raised - an area of the city close to her heart. “My grandad’s funeral business was on the road adjacent to the Clough and the nearby St John Boscos Church was where I put on my first events and got married to my business partner.”

"The Clough is where some of the greatest socialists, like the suffragettes, spoke to large crowds, this area has been a huge part of my life and the sense of community that was instilled in me is one of the reasons I became a social entrepreneur".


Emmeline Pankhurst launched her career at Boggart Hole Clough

(Photo: Edward Gooch/Getty)

A large rally in Boggart Hole Clough

(Photo: Manchester Libraries)


Rose is famed for her ability to galvanise community action and respond to landmark civic events, not least in fronting 'Manchester Together with One Voice', the City Council’s response to the Manchester arena attack, leading a global broadcast of choirs singing from the steps of the town hall on the first anniversary of the terror attack.


Most recently Rose produced 'Together in One Voice' a community led YouTube Live event in lockdown which saw 100,000 people singing on their doorsteps with appearances from top musical artists, partnering with Manchester International Festival.


Rose will be embarking on the next exciting chapter of her career in January 2021, when she will be  joining Co-operatives UK in the role as Chief Executive.


As founder CEO of SharpFutures, Rose has grown the organisation from its inception to a team of 40 and has designed a blueprint for a national roll out... she will now take on a board position when she steps down as CEO.

THE SHOOT: Boggart Hole Clough, Blackley

Boggart Hole Clough is a large ancient woodland in North Manchester close to where Rose was born and raised. The park was a regular meeting place for the suffragette movement and the local community in Blackley has played a huge part in Rose's life as a social entrepreneur.

Student reflection: Katie O'Neill

On the day of Rose’s shoot we travelled to Boggart Hole Clough in North Manchester. I was super excited due to the amazing autumn tints that would be available within the park and hoped that the colours would really pop and provide a wonderful backdrop.


We met up with Rose and walked through the Clough and as we did, she gave us a brief history of the park; taking us to the steps where the suffragette movement held rallies in the early 1900s. We also discussed Rose’s own personal history, how she grew up in the area, the events that she has helped to organise over the last few years and her current work situation.


The photography itself went really well. I managed to get some shots which I am really proud of, the amazing colours in the Clough added extra dimension to the shoot. Rose was very patient and accommodating and a natural in front of end camera.


Katie & Rose

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