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The Baroness Barran of Bathwick: oration

Read Professor Louise Brown's oration on The Baroness Barran of Bathwick for the honorary degree of Doctor of the University in July 2022


Photograph of Diana Barran on receiving her honorary degree
The Baroness Barran of Bathwick

Vice-Chancellor, it gives me great pleasure to introduce Baroness Barran of Bathwick in the City of Bath who is a mother, wife, charity founder, former hedge fund manager and Conservative Party life peer.

Born in London in 1959, Diana grew up in Kent before completing her education at King’s College Cambridge. After graduating with a degree in history, she worked as an investment banker in the City, before founding one of the first European hedge funds, Barran and Partners in 1993.

In 2001, Diana gave up a highly successful career to spend more time with her four children. A year later however, Diana took her experience from the City to New Philanthropy Capital, where she worked advising donors and philanthropists on maximising the impact of their donations.

It was at New Philanthropy Capital that Diana helped advise the Guardian on their Christmas charity appeal which was focused on domestic abuse. She was struck by the lack of choices available to women experiencing the most dangerous levels of domestic abuse in the UK, for whom leaving your home and taking your children to live in a refuge was often the only option. Diana’s belief was that ‘everybody had a right to live safely in their own home’. In 2003 Diana published a report ‘Charity Begins at Home: Domestic Violence’, yet sensing more needed to be done, in 2004, she founded SafeLives, a nation-wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, where she remained as CEO until 2017. SafeLives was premised on a belief that early, consistent and tailored help kept people safe, provided a choice for them to stay in their own home and held perpetrators to account. SafeLives pioneered the first formal qualification in the field and led the adoption of a multi-agency approach for the highest risk cases of domestic abuse. Over 60,000 adults are supported annually as a result. Adopting a data-driven approach to understand and prioritise risk to help those that faced the greatest need, under her guidance SafeLives pioneered the use of the DASH Risk Checklist - a practical, standardised nationwide tool. Its success can be measured by the significant reduction in time it now takes to get help to victims, over 60% of those who get help from trained professionals reporting that the abuse stops – with all that means for both the victim and their children. Most recently, she helped lead a partnership of charities to address the behaviour of the highest harm perpetrators of abuse – something she believes is essential if we are ever to reduce the scale of the problem.

In 2019 Diana was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Never had her role as Minister of Loneliness been so timely as it was during the recent pandemic. She was recognised in the BBC 100 Women of 2020 list. In 2021, she was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education, with responsibility for the school system.

If Diana were to have her own strap line it would probably be ‘the smallest possible thing that makes the biggest possible difference’. Her working life has been spent seeking practical solutions to complex problems, frequently in partnership with third sector organisations and funders - solutions that foster diversity and inclusivity in the field of abuse, violence and mental wellbeing.

Vice-Chancellor, I present to you Baroness Diana Barran who is eminently worthy to receive the degree of Doctor of the University honoris causa.


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