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Barry Knight

Barry Knight is a social scientist, statistician, former Director of the Webb Memorial Trust and now Director of The Webb Legacy.

Barry has spent his career building networks and connections to address poverty both nationally and internationally, becoming an influential voice on the subject, and writing 14 books along the way. His latest, Rethinking Poverty: What makes a good society?, is based on a research programme carried out by the Webb Memorial Trust, for which Barry was a Trustee then Director until its closure in 2017.

The Trust was formed in 1947 to pursue the intellectual legacy of Beatrice Webb. Her husband, Sidney, and many others donated to set up the grant making organisation following her death in 1943. From 1987 the Webb Memorial Trust funded a wide range of projects in the UK, helping to create a better-informed debate about poverty, its causes and solutions.

In 2010, the Trust began spending down its resources, which took the next seven years, involving a comprehensive review of programmes and policies designed to address poverty. The grants continue to support community projects, including “The Hull We Want” and “Tyne and Wear Citizens”, and bring together thinkers and activists internationally to find effective solutions.

Barry was instrumental in the launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Poverty in 2013, for which the Webb Memorial Trust provided the secretariat, with the aim of increasing understanding of poverty among parliamentarians and seek all-party solutions.

Barry is a trained statistician and worked at Cambridge University, teaching criminology. During his tenure, he interviewed young men in London at risk of poverty, which led to work on a poverty programme for the European Commission and, later, voluntary action for the Home Office. Since then, he’s been part of the international philanthropic community, advising the Ford Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the Global Fund for Community Foundations, among others.

Barry is now helping to link the theory behind poverty with action to tackle it through Staffordshire University’s new Action on Poverty and Hardship Degree, for which he sits on the steering board. He has also delivered guest lectures, given students the opportunity to guest blog on the influential Re-Thinking Poverty website and, in June this year, took part in the Action on Poverty Conference, hosted at the University.

The Award of Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University is bestowed upon Barry in recognition of his exceptional distinction in the field of poverty research and his support of the Action on Poverty and Hardship degree.

Photo of Barry Knight

Barry Knight was bestowed the award in 2022

We need to build better links between theory, empirical research and practical action to address poverty. Staffordshire University is well-placed to do this and I look forward to working more closely with the institution.

Barry Knight