SHADA was formed in 2005 by the Outsiders Trust to bring together professionals who work with disabled people and may be struggling to support them in their sexual expression. We share our work and empower each other to support disabled people in their sex and relationship needs. Our members are very appreciative of our existence.

Our bi-annual meetings attract a wide range of health and social care professionals, lawyers, sex workers, enablers, sexual advocates, disabled people and medical personel. We have evolved over the years and continue to do so. Right now, we focus on pioneering attendees who wish to push forward and offer more personalised support to their disabled residents and service users. We listen to what they wish to achieve and make suggestions, guide them on the law, and help them feel more confident. They return to the next meeting to report back on their successes and struggles, and everybody learns from this. It feels quite magical.

SHADA provides a vital communication link to individuals and organisations involved in sex and disability projects nationally. Without SHADA our work could be duplicated or never recognised beyond the local or regional footprint in which we operate. ” Dave Thompson MBE DL Chair of Trustees
– Warrington Disability Partnership

As a teacher working with young people with severe physical disabilities and complex learning, sensory and medical needs, within the area of Sex and Relationship Education, I have found membership of SHADA invaluable. Meeting with other professionals who feel similarly about this topic and the collective sharing of skills and knowledge is very inspiring. I always come away from meetings feeling uplifted and encouraged to do what I can within my organisation, to develop this essential area.” Helen Dunman

As a medical student, I am taught to communicate with and treat individuals as whole beings, with emphasis on physical, mental and social wellbeing. However I find that the amount of information I am given thorough the medical curriculum regarding disability and sexual health is virtually non-existant, and not enough to make a difference to disabled people in medical practise. SHADA has taught me so much in this area and I would like to be able to share it with my colleagues, since I believe that medical education should allow qualified doctors to confidently speak about the importance of sex with every patient and especially those with disabilities. I am passionate in trying to make this a mandatory part of the medical curriculum and with SHADA I feel supported with my efforts to get sex and disability include in the training of medical students, which will enable future medical professionals feel comfortable in broaching the subject of sex with disabled patients.Natalie Barclay-Klingle, medical student

“Whilst doing my research into sexual well-being and its relevance to social care, SHADA has been an important resource and inspiration.” Sally Lee, Social Worker

The SH&DA network is incredibly diverse and the support I personally have received as a researcher, educationalist and health professional has been invaluable. It is wonderful to feel part of a proactive group of people who care and are passionate about enabling disabled people in their sexual expression. It has made me recognise that my contribution is important, and part of a bigger process.” Lorna Couldrick, campaigner and trainer in sex and disability at Brighton University

I was inspired at the SHADA conference 2009 at the Royal Society of Medicine to specialise in sex and disability in my work in law.” Claire de Than, Senior Lecturer in Criminal and Human Rights Law at City University.

I have never sat in a meeting of health professionals, or any professionals for that matter, and witnessed such a passionate enthusiasm for the subject, that you enjoy with SHADAMaud Young, Producer.

“The Sexual Respect Tool Kit is one of the most important developments in sexual health, certainly in the last decade.” Susan Quilliam authoress of The New Joy of Sex

I am extremely impressed by the fantastic work your organisation have accomplished. In particular, it was refreshing to learn how very clearly you have put disabled people’s sexuality on the map.” Diego F. Soto-Miranda, Barrister-at-Law

SHADA is important because I believe that the importance of sexuality to people living with disabilities tends to easily be marginalized and SHADA is an excellent forum for everyone who shares this concern to meet on an equal basis. This general lack of focus on sexuality and disability seems to be particularly so with the client group that I am involved with who have the hidden disability of acquired brain injury. I run sexuality following acquired brain injury training days and have found that clinicians in other European countries also struggle with the lack of opportunities to train in this field and I welcome any initiative by SHADA to help support training in this important area.Steve Shears, Training Manager and Psychosexual Therapist – Headway


SHADA has been run by four volunteers: our Chair, secretary,coordinator and convenor and scribe. We have now established a working group to make SHADA move forward, become more sustainable, have more clout, and take on projects, Our first project is to encourage governing bodies to include sex and disability in their training, policies and guidelines. SHADA organised the book launch of Tuppy Owens’ book ‘Supporting Disabled People with their Sexual Lives‘ and now the book is on sale from Jessica Kingsley Publishers http://www.jkp.com/uk/supporting-disabled-people-with-their-sexual-lives.html

SHADA meets twice a year in London, meetings are free but people must book in advance. Meetings focus on matters concerning those in the meeting and the agenda is printed on this website in advance.

SHADA held a conference on 13th November 2009 at the Royal Society of Medicine and sometimes publish leaflets on topics discussed. We have produced draft policies on sex for health care professionals and shared discussions with the Alistair Bradford, senior social worker at the Ministry of Defence, Headley Court.

We are growing from strength to strength and have the top pioneers in this field as members. We enjoy a varied membership making our discussions multi-dimensional. This is a selection of our members:

Andy Beckingham FFPH (Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health), Consultant in Public Health in the UK and India, and works on reducing inequalities.

Alex Cowan promoter of disability awareness and equality, writer and spokesperson on disability and sexuality. Alex and her husband, Lionel Roth, were selected to speak on the Channel 4 TV Sex Education Show.

Lorna Couldrick an OT who, until recently, was a Senior Lecturer at Sussex University and still teaches and trains on sexuality and disability. Lorna constructed the Recognition Model to replace the PLISSIT model for health professionals working with disabled people. She and Alex Cowan wrote the chapter “Enabling disabled people to have and enjoy the kind of sexuality they want” in the book Women, sexuality and the political power of pleasure.

Claire de Than senior lecturer in Human Rights and Criminal Law at City University and author of many books on the subject of Human Rights. Claire is specialising in disabled people and sex, having been inspired at our conference at the Royal Society of Medicine

Narella Higson an OT at The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Western Australia who compiled the MA+ Guide the leading resource on sex toys for disabled people and works as in Perth, Australia 

Helen Dunman teacher at Chailey Heritage Foundation where she has responsibility for Personal Social and Health Education and developing Sex Education.

Jan Lang Practice Advisor at the House with No Steps, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.

Gill Leno the PSHE (Personal, Sexual, Health, Emotional) Specialist Therapist at Queen Alexandra College in Birmingham which is a specialist VI college for people with a wide range of learning, sensory and physical disabilities. Gill specifically teaches about sex and relationships, risk taking behaviour and internet safety.
Sue Newsome sex therapist, tantric teacher and sex worker. Sue demonstrated her skills at working with disabled clients on stage at our conference and spoke on her work with disabled clients at the College of Sex and Relationship Therapy, London.

Kevin Reel healthcare ethicist in Canada

You are welcome to join us, wherever you are. We are creating an international group.


The Outsiders Trust is a Charity, Registered No 283350