Published on 26/07/2022


Social care and health expert receives honorary doctorate for work with victims of domestic abuse
  • Surwat Sohail, chief executive of charity Roshni, presented with award
  • The charity helps women who have endured abuse such as honour-based violence
  • She has spent her career supporting black and minoritised women and their children who have experienced domestic violence.

​​​​​​​Aston University has given an honorary doctorate to a woman who has supported black and minoritised women and their children, who have experienced domestic violence. 

Surwat Sohail, chief executive of Roshni, a charity that helps women who have endured abuse including forced marriages and honour-based violence, received the award of LLD on 22 July.

She is one of the country’s most experienced practitioners in the field of social care and health, with three decades of experience managing a range of different services. Originally from Walsall, she trained as a solicitor. She’s represented domestic abuse victims in front of House of Common committees and challenged policies that disadvantage black and minoritised communities.

Throughout her career, first at the Ashram Housing Association and later Roshni Birmingham, she has led the organisations through many accreditations and national awards, including the Chartered Institute of Housing Gold Award and Women’s Aid National Standards.  

Her work has been showcased as a model of good practice and she is often invited to share her expertise at events and conferences. 

She said: “When I found out I was to receive this award from Aston University I was elated.

“I was delighted to receive recognition of my work, but even more so because it highlights that the needs of all victims of domestic abuse should remain central to future development of legislation, policies and procedures.”

Alongside her core work of managing various projects, Surwat continues to dedicate her time to the groups such as West Midlands Domestic Abuse Board, Birmingham Equalities sub-group and the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioners victim panel. She has also worked with Aston University Students’ Union to help increase awareness of issues such as forced marriage. 

Saskia Loer Hansen, Interim Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, said: “Surwat received this honour in recognition of her career which has been dedicated to helping others. Her work has made such a positive impact on the lives of thousands of people across Birmingham and the West Midlands who have desperately needed support and advice.  I am very pleased that we are able to recognise her work in this way.”

Aston University held its summer 2022 graduation ceremonies between 18-22 July.

Photo caption:  Surwat Sohail

Notes to editors

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Saskia Loer Hansen is the interim Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston University was named University of the Year 2020 by The Guardian and the University’s full time MBA programme has been ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking. The Aston MBA has been ranked 12th in the UK and 85th in the world.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Nicola Jones, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44)7825 342091 or email

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