She went to school at Motherwell and Oldham and studied at the University of Southampton, where she joined the Liberal Party. Barker worked for Age Concern between 1983 and 2007. She was made a life peer as Baroness Barker, of Anagach in Highland, in 1999 and is a Liberal Democrat spokesperson on health matters.
Barker came out as lesbian during the House of Lords debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill:
- "Many years ago, I had the great good fortune to meet someone. She and I have loved each other ever since – that is, apart from the occasional spectacular argument, usually about driving or DIY."
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- Who's Who 2008: London, A & C Black, 2008 ISBN 978-0-7136-8555-8
- Debrett's People of Today London, Debrett's, 2008 ISBN 978-1-870520-95-9
- http://thepeerage.com/p13201.htm thePeerage.com
- London Gazette 55574 startpage=8517 6 August 1999