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Mr Jon Barrick: oration

Read Professor Nick Pearce's oration on Mr Jon Barrick for the honorary degree of Professional Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice in July 2017.


Profile photograph of Mr Jon Barrick
Mr Jon Barrick

Jon Barrick has had a long and distinguished career serving the public good in the charitable and statutory sectors.

He read sociology at the University of Bath in the mid-1970s and it was this experience that started him thinking about how the world could be understood and changed. After a brief period working for the Inland Revenue, Jon joined the London Borough of Haringey in 1983 as Manager of its Homeless Persons Unit. During the six years he spent there, he acquired a Postgraduate Diploma in Housing from Middlesex University. In 1989, he moved to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) as Manager of its Housing Service and later won the Institute of Housing Award for developing purpose-built housing for blind and partially sighted people. In this role, Jon began developing influence in government circles, gaining experience in campaigning and policy development that was to stand him in good stead for his future achievements.

Jon went on to become Assistant Director, and then Director of the RNIB’s Community Services, heading a team of over 400 staff and volunteers. In this role, he trebled the number of service users to over 200,000, introduced Vision Impairment Standards for the UK and invented the charity’s Talk and Support Service (telephone social and support groups for adults with sight loss), which went on to win Best Charity Project in 2007. He also chaired the committee on Ageing and Blindness for the World Blind Union, developing expertise in the governance of international voluntary sector activity.

Jon joined the Stroke Association in 2004 and in his time there, the charity grew threefold. It now has an income at over £37 million and 800 staff. The organisation disseminates approximately 2.5 million pieces of literature each year, manages a well-used website, and supports 82,000 stroke survivors with direct assistance in any one year. It also provides training for those who work with stroke survivors. Under Jon’s leadership, the association created the first UK “Life after Stroke” centre at Bromsgrove and established the world’s first multidisciplinary Stroke conference, the UK Stroke Forum. In 2006 it won the Best Healthcare and Medical Research Charity award. He was elected chairman of the Neurological Alliance (a coalition of nearly 50 charities).

In 2014, Jon was elected President of the Stroke Alliance for Europe. He is also a member of the World Stroke Organization Board, and now chairs the World Stroke Campaign, and was a Founder Member of The Richmond Group of charities, which comprises the UK’s ten leading medical charities, formed to enable more effective advocacy to government.

Jon is a big sports fan. He played for the University of Bath football club, as well as for Epping Forest and Canterbury City. He is a passionate Tottenham Hotspur supporter and therefore one of life’s eternal optimists.

Jon left the Stroke Association last year for some well-earned rest, but judging by his track record, Jon will continue to apply his enormous skill, passion and integrity to great effect in furthering the work and increasing the impact of the voluntary sector. He has made an enormous contribution to the sector during a lifetime of sustained and deep commitment to those it serves.

Chancellor, I present to you Jon Barrick, who is eminently worthy to receive the Degree of Professional Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice, honoris causa.

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