8th March 2013

Report on 16th Meeting


ATTENDANCE LIST (with email addresses):

Dr Tuppy Owens (convenor, scribe and speaker) Outsiders


Adam Thomas (chair) – Elfrida Society


Katie Wiltshier (secretary) Occupational therapist and psychosexual therapist


Sally Lee – Social worker/researcher


Anji Page – Sense


Tim Gilbert – Independent Living Solutions


Sue Newsome – Shakti Tantra


Paul Casey – FPA


Helen Dunman – Chailey Heritage Foundation


Claire de Than – City University


Eliot Lamb – Independent Living Solutions


Natalie Barclay-Klingle – BMA ISC Chair


Maddie Blackburn – Open University/researcher/Sexuality Working Alliance Group


Tataa Thamaga – RGN at Portland College


Lorna Couldrick – Occupational therapist/researcher (retired)


Lucy Franklin – Remark Media


Anna Kelvie – BBC Science


Miguel Tudela de la Fuente – FPA


James Hourihan – Timian Training and Development


Jon Clugston – Hereward College


Nikki Evans – Chailey Heritage Foundation


Michelle Malka


Jahnet  – tantric sex worker




Rebecca Lowrie, Carol Westwood, Les, Stefan Balogh, Maxine Bell, Victoria McKEnzie, Marianne Scobie, Sarah Rose Bright, Lisa Ferguson, Gill Leno, Helena Barrow, Andy Crowe




ACTION (including ongoing from last meeting):




Please also let Tuppy know if:

–          you hear of any thing that is relevant for the resources section

you would like to volunteer to help out with updating the Tool Kit website.








The next meeting date in October 2013 (either 11th or 18th – TBC)  from 11am to 4pm 

–          Introductions All present introduced themselves and current projects.


  1. Matters arising from the minutes

– Tuppy reported that list of SHADA members is not on website as only 4 people had told her that they would like their details to be put on.

– Tuppy also wondered why many ‘old’ members (i.e. those who joined in the early days of SHADA) no longer attend meetings.

– Lorna reported that sex and disability is a new ‘hot’ topic at the College of Occupational Therapists at the moment. There is now a resource list available through COT thanks to the work of Tuppy, Lorna and an OT from Australia.  It includes the Sexual Respect Toolkit and mentions SHADA and Outsiders.

Unfortunately COT were not keen to give guidance to its members on addressing sexuality as part of occupational therapy, despite Lorna reminding them that their role is to offer leadership.



  1. 2.      Presentations by Helen Dunman – Chailey Heritage Foundation, Jon Clugston – Hereward College and Tuppy Owens – Outsiders.


Helen Dunman – Chailey Heritage Foundation

Chailey Heritage Foundation is a school for young people who have physical disabilities and learning difficulties (severe, profound and multiple).  The young people are affected by a range of medical and sensory issues.  Helen has been teaching PHSE for over 20 years, including sex education. Chailey have recently opened an adult provision and as a result there has been an open debate around options for sexual expression including use of sex workers.  This has been with the backing of the head teacher.

Helen wants to ensure that sexuality is included in adult (19-22 yo) services policies.


A meeting with the adults at Chailey raised the following needs:

–          wanting to share a room with a partner

–          wanting to know about sex workers and how to get help with booking if required

–          use of sex aids

–          viewing pornography


She has secured funding for 2 hours each week to focus on this work.  Tuppy has been very supportive including legal issues around using sex workers.  Helen found that policies from many other colleges were not satisfactory in terms of enabling sexual expression.  However she did find that Plymouth NHS policies were helpful and Helen has added her ideas to these.


Progress so far:

The policy includes working with students how are on 24 hours medical alert with medical conditions.  Creative problem solving was used to overcome barriers such as how to turn pages of a magazine for people with no hand function – pages were put into a scanner so students can watch porn independently.

For now, ‘interactive porn’ with a webcam is still not allowed but this could change in the future.



Vibrating snakes and cushions can be used but there is a problem if there is ‘sexual intent’.  Would need someone not directly involved in care of the student to intervene – use of sex workers could be a practical solution to this.  Helen will also speak to the engineering workshop to see if they can come up with a solution.


Greg Sams, Tuppy Owens and a sex worker experienced in working with people with disabilities went to speak with a group of influential staff at Chailey about practical aspects of using sex workers.  Helen said this was very helpful though not everyone came to the meeting.  The sex worker has offered to meet a potential client first without payment to talk about what their needs before they commit to a session with her.


Use of sex workers has not yet been approved by the governors. Helen has written practical guidelines including information from the Sexual Respect Toolkit. This will be given to senior management to discuss.  It is essential that trustees and governors give policies backing.





Discussion following Helen’s presentation:

–          How would it work if a sex worker was supporting more than one student?

Sex workers need to help each person they work with to understand that they are not their girlfriend/boyfriend.  Need to manage this situation sensitively especially for those who have not experienced intimacy before. Staff could support with this, could help students work on ‘real life’ issues such as jealousy.


Helen’s vision is to have articles published in mainstream health journals once all policies are in place, to promote advocating sexual expression within residential settings.


NB Please contact TLC Trust  www.tlc-trust.org.uk if you are looking for information on sex workers rather than Outsiders – they are separate organisations.


Tuppy Owens – Report on the recent Press coverage of using sex workers in residential settings

Following the recent coverage in the press in both the UK and abroad on use of sex workers in residential settings, Tuppy has been talking to 6 production companies about promoting the positive side of enabling sexual expression in care homes and other residential settings.  SHADA has been mentioned in a lot in press coverage.  We are hoping that there will be some positive responses to this issue now being in the public arena for discussion.


There is also an online teen mag called ‘Vice’ that is going to follow a sex worker on the TLC site visiting a disabled person.

Lorna reported that she had been interviewed by Ellie Price but the story was ‘shelved’ when Chaseley denied any use of sex workers on their premises.

The film ‘The Sessions’ has also had positive response.



Jon Clugston – Hereward College

Hereward College is a College of Further Education for people with a range of physical disabilities.  Some are day students, some boarders.  There is also a range of ages and abilities which makes enabling sexual expression challenging.


The Care Quality Commission requested a sex and disability policy at Hereward.  The policy was developed with the help of other colleges and SHADA.  The policy was then approved by the CQC and governors.


The policy was tested on a 21 year old student with no speech and no movement in his limbs.  He wanted to learn to masturbate and was very frustrated.  The student was sent to look for sex aids on the internet but he was stopped from doing so by the firewall put in place by the college.  Jon worked with this student and certain members of staff chosen by the student to resolve this problem, and formal agreements were put in place.  The use of sex workers was not explored as a possibility.

The policy and practice were examined and approved by appropriate agencies including the CQC and police.


However there has been an adverse reaction towards this policy and practice from some staff members.  As a result Hereward are now more risk averse in regards to their policy and taking the issue of sexual expression forwards.


Discussion following presentation:

Someone with capacity and able to consent has a right to be enabled to express themselves sexually in private.

However there is no duty to provide – duty is about best interests of the person.  If something is in the best interests of someone it has to be enabled.



  1. Sexual Respect Toolkit – progress report

The Sexual Respect Toolkit is now online – www.sexualrespect.com – please check it out and let Tuppy know your feedback (tuppyo@gmail.com)


Positive comments so far include being able to go directly to different sections.


Please also let Tuppy know if:

–          you hear of any thing that is relevant for the resources section

–          you would like to volunteer to help out with updating the Tool Kit website. You’ll be in good company – Clare de Than is updating the legal section and Susan Quilliam has offered to proof read the website every month (many thanks to you both).


  1. 4.      Training presentations by Paul Casey – FPA training manager, Andy Crowe – Outsiders (via Tuppy) and Natalie Barclar-Klingle


Paul Casey – FPA

FPA are involved in campaigning and offer an education and information service especially around sexual health.  Work has recently been undertaken in Northern Ireland around abortion.


FPA offer 35 courses over a wide range of subjects – 20-30% of courses are related to sex and physical/learning disabilities (please see www.fpa.org.uk for more information – list of courses is now web-based).

They will also offer tailor-made courses – this option is becoming increasingly popular.  FPA will deliver courses on-site for 8-16 people.

Anyone can request a training course to be run. Some courses are accredited.


FPA also offer advice to parents and schools, etc around sex and disability.  There is also a link on their website to the ‘desire and pleasure’ site for sex toys and sex aids.


A range of students access FPA’s courses including social workers, learning disability nurses, learning disability support workers, teachers.  Some students already have knowledge but attend courses to gain qualifications.


Funding is being cut from many training budgets and staff are less available to come on courses. However there is funding available from grants such as ‘Awards for All’ for FPA courses.



Andy Crowe – Outsiders member

Andy was unable to attend the meeting today so Tuppy passed on information from him. Andy is a quadriplegic. He found information on a sexuality and accessibility project in Canada (see Toolkit for more details) which was looking at whether personal assistants and disabled people were meeting each other’s needs.

The project found that needs were not being met due to incorrect assumptions on both sides.


From this, training was developed to help both disabled people and their PA’s communicate more openly in relation to expressing sexuality but also everyday enabling.


Andy is keen to offer training such as this in the UK, so there was a discussion around whether such training is needed.


Paul from FPA said that men with physical disabilities have requested training in opening up such conversations – Andy to contact Paul about potential for working together with FPA.

Carers also need training in permission to bring up the subject (Maddie to send me link to study).


Natalie Barclay Klingle – Medical student

Natalie spoke about the lack of focus on sexual issues during medical training – only 1.5 hours plus one workshop in 3 years.  She feels that many medical students would welcome more information about sexual health and the effect on sexuality of operations, etc.


Natalie is looking for the British Medical Association (BMA) to put in compulsory provision for training on sexual health on all medical training courses.


However Natalie also thinks that some trainee medics are not interested as they see it as ‘fluffy’ and not ‘proper’ medicine.  It was commented that this attitude is also prevalent within Allied Health Professions.  However in the classification of disability, communication and mobility are given the same weighting as sex.


Ideally sexual issues should be an integral to every aspect of the course, rather than an ‘add on’ module.  Sheffield University is an example of good practice where this is happening.  It is attitudes that need to be addressed – what is needed is confidence to broach the subject of sex with patients rather than in-depth information.



5. Barriers caused by Negative Attitudes towards Sex

Anji Page from Sense spoke about the fears of getting the wrong type of publicity.  For example since the Sexual Offences Act, lots of resources are no longer available for deaf/blind people.


There is no case law at present regarding a disabled person taking a college to task.  It was proposed that Maddie is most likely to have influence in this area as she is involved in both Open University and Sexual Working Alliance Group.


There was a situation recently where a residential home was looking into the sexual needs of disabled people.  The work place has asked for a meeting with parents to be involved.  However is there really a need for parents to be involved as this could be disempowering for a disabled person. If someone does not have capacity then an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate could be involved.


The Human Rights Act and Sexual Offences Act are incompatible.


Two main issues were cited – empathic and legal. More understanding will help increase empathy and get people ‘on side’.  The legal element can be used as a ‘stick’.


The World Health Organisation website has good information about sexual rights and lots of resources.  It is helpful for explaining to professionals, families, etc.



  1. Sexual Advocacy (SA) – Presentation by Sue Newsome

Sue explained that the idea behind the SA project is to provide resource to help clients (in residential homes & living independently) to acknowledge and address their sexual needs.  Sexual Advocates will be available to listen to clients’ needs and advise about possible options.


Sue described how Handisex in Denmark provide a service to people with both physical and learning disability to help them achieve sexual satisfaction.


Handisex report that a key aspect of the service is managing client expectations & getting agreement about what is a successful outcome for the client.  The SA team are looking for a pilot project with an organisation or individual(s) who require some support in meeting their sexual needs.


7. Any other business

Tuppy has been trying to get the “assisted masturbation project” off the ground.  The people performing the masturbation will need to have a “disclosure” (police check) from the Disclosure and Barring Service (new organisation that has replaced the Criminal Records Bureau).  Volunteers can get disclosures for no financial charge.


Tuppy said that Becky Adams will be receiving £1 million from a contact of Max Clifford (the publicist) to assist with setting up her service.


There is a type of sexual massage that is performed in Thailand which takes a long time and people can reach orgasm.  It is not masturbation, the intent is different.


Tuppy spoke about a gentleman she met who had cerebral palsy who usually could not speak clearly but after his second consecutive orgasm he could speak clearly.


Anji Page spoke about the “Keeping Safe” project for deaf blind people that she is involved with.  Some of the topics include “Internet safety” and “stranger danger”.  If anyone is interested in joining the project or sharing resources please contact Anji at anji.page@sense.org.uk 



8. Venue, date and focus for next meeting


The next meeting TBC (either Friday 11th October or 18thfrom 11am to 4pm


Topics for discussion to be decided in near future.