Dr. Tuppy Owens,
The Outsiders Club was formed in 1979 in London and very quickly attracted members from all over the country and abroad.
We set up the Outsiders Trust (then called the Integration Trust), a registered charity, in 1982,.
We have always been run by volunteers who are also members, apart from when money is granted to pay for projects.
We have been regarded as controversial: always received praise from the free thinkers
and condemnation from the establishment.
But that is now changing.
The world is waking up to the fact that disabled people need more than parking spaces!
We are at last being invited to speak at conferences, and talk to senior staff
in places where disabled people live, study, and end their lives.
The aim is to make sure that, whatever their impairment, all disabled people can enjoy sexual expression if they wish.
At our conference in June 2012, Claire de Than, Senior Lecturer at The City Law School
and author of eight books on Human Rights and Criminal Law,
said that her work on Disability, Sexuality and the Law was inspired by a conversation she’d had
with our founder, Dr Tuppy Owens, at our 2009 conference at the Royal Society of Medicine.
She also commended the research Outsiders has done (our FOI Survey to Local Authorities).
The Outsiders Club is still the centre of our work and we are looking forward to having online joining,
a members’ area with peer support forums cosy corners, for chats, and much more.
We are soon to publish “Frequently asked Questions” from the Sex and Disability Helpline.
SHADA, the Sexual Health and Disability Alliance, is blossoming
and bringing together all the pioneers in the field.
We operate on many levels and members can join in wherever they choose.
Outsiders is a safe community of people across the UK with
a few members abroad. We share a wide range of physical and social
disabilities.Many are looking to change their lives around, make new friends,
enjoy life to the full and find partners.
Members contact each other directly by phone, text, OutsidersChat,
email and snailmail. We offer a free forwarding service. Members can meet in
person at our events once friendships have been established, or just come along
anyway to meet new people. Many wonderful friendships and relationships have
The Outsiders Club is many things to its very different
members — from acting as a source of fun and way to meet new friends, to a
place where people are supported on a journey of self-acceptance. It’ s like a
family for many of its members, and a stepping stone to others. For many, we
hear, we simply provide an inspiration that love and intimacy are possible for
even severely and multiple disabled people, even when they are gay, lesbian or
trans. All these things make us totally unique, and our volunteers are very
devoted and proud of our work.
Barry Humphries, patron
We aim to run Outsiders like any other private club,
providing confidentiality, a good service and respect. Our 2009 survey found
that 100% of our members felt less isolated since they joined the club; all had
made new friends and felt more confident. None of those called had found a
partner yet, but then, quite often members resign once they have formed a
We offer members opportunities to find what they seek.
From experience, it is those who put most into Outsiders that get most out of it.
The more activities people get involved in, the more likely they are to
form close relationships and enjoy life to the full.
Outsiders has always attracted a wonderful range of people, mostly people
who are open and adventurous but also those who are very private and shy.
Most are in their 30s and 40s but some join younger, and some are in their 80s.
Like in any other club, members do not always answer letters or return calls
but most are simply delighted to belong to a club where they are accepted; venturing
into a relationship takes time, courage and self-acceptance, especially when you have
Els Payne, SHADA
We are proud that our members are honest about themselves (even their age!) and
self-accepting. Many have had unhappy experiences of online dating: advertisers
not turning out to be what they seem in their adverts, often failing to turn up
because they are really quite frightened, and thus seeming disrespectful.
Outsiders members have been carefully screened and are soon booted out if they
behave disrespectfully. All have signed that they agree to the rules of
Outsiders which clearly describes the the level of behaviour required. This is
not moralistic, as members can enjoy any mutuallly consensual activity, but
respectful, insisting that members cannot be abusive or exploitative.
Who can join
We welcome anyone over 16 years of age who is able to understand the concept of
Outsiders and run their own affairs, and they need to support our ethos. We ask
that members fill in our application form themselves and offer help if they
cannot read print. We also welcome members who support our ethos and have
valuable skills or expertise to contribute.
When somebody applies who we feel ill-equipped to cope with, e.g. people who cannot
manage their own affairs because of learning disability, mental health problems
or brain damage, they are signposted on to more suitable clubs.
All members’ application forms are examined by experienced volunteers
to ensure that they have not been asked to leave in the past, and are not lookist,
sexist or racist, or only concerned with their own needs or instant gratification.
Associate Membership costs £25.00 a year, and is for people who are interested
in our work and want to stay in touch.
They receive copies of INSIDE in the post and can attend our events.
Most of our volunteers are Outsiders members who have gained experience,
found happiness and want to help others.
Together, they have a wide range of experience of disability.
We require members to have been in the Club for six months before volunteering.
Bringing in volunteers from elsewhere has proved less successful
unless they have personal experience of the stigma of disability.
Being disabled sometimes means being unable to work because
of fatigue, pain, hospital appointments, transport problems and just feeling low.
Outsiders Volunteering Policy makes allowances for this by providing flexibility.
Our Founder and Coordinator
Dr Tuppy Owens started running Outsiders from her flat in Mayfair in 1979
and continues to coordinate it from her croft in the Highlands.
She has an Honorary Doctorate for Good Works,
a diploma in Human Sexuality from London University. She is Hons BSc in
Zoology from Exeter. She has led quite a colourful life and is devoted to
Outsiders and its future.
Volunteers who run the office
The office is run by a tiny team of people who have been
working together for a long time:-
Janet Brookman — Janet keeps the office shipshape and looks
after the blind members who need their material on tape.
Eleni Stephani — Eleni is the hub of Outsiders,
our Social Secretary and helpline operator. She won Islington Volunteer of the Year in 2009.
Philippe Gasguy — Philippe began as office boy and now runs
the database and membership process. He says helping other people is what he enjoys most.
Tuppy Owens oversees the working of the office and keeps the rest up to speed
on developments with regards new projects and funding.
Volunteers who run Events
London Lunches are run by a rota of volunteers coordinated by Sue Nathan
and including Dawn Powell, Tuppy Owens and some of the Trustees.
East Anglia Lunches are run by Maz Peri, a dashing lady of Small stature
with Scoliosis and severe breathing difficulties, who has been an active member
of Outsiders for many years. Maz attracts members from London and further afield,
as well as people other groups such as Gemma and the
Scoliosis Association (UK) (SAUK).
Midlands Lunches run by Steve Major, a wheelchair user who works
for Time2Talk Daventry as a counsellor and outreach worker.
Steve also organized a holiday for Outsiders members at the
New Mayfair Hotel in Blackpool in September 2009.
West Country Events are run by
Sarah Batten, who has Cerebral Palsy and a speech impairment. The programme is decided by the local members and reminders are sent monthly.
See the West Country Newsletter.
North of England Lunches and Events run by
Lilian McCarthy who has been blind from birth, and works for Jobcentreplus within
the Department for Work and Pensions, helped by Chris Green.
SHADA Meetings are chaired by Adam Thomas.
Secretary: Katie Wiltshier;
Convenor: Tuppy Owens;
Coordinator: Els Payne.
Group for people with Neurodiversities Rea Danielle
who runs small gatherings with therapy in North London.
Pleasure Islands in the Disability Field at
Glastonbury run by Katie Sarra, Art Therapist and Actress.
The Fundraising Events Team Over 150 volunteers help to raise funds
for Outsiders through the Leydig Trust, staging several events a year.
Reading material onto tape for blind members by our blind member Peter Gooch’s PA.
Birthday cards sent out to members by Savio
Website Ian Hudson
Computers Lawrence Brightman
Trustees meet four times a year as well as for the AGM
which is held at an Outsiders London Lunch. Trustees meetings are usually
attended by one of the disabled members of the Outsiders Advisory Board. All
trustees have been trained in governance and good practice.
Chair: Gregory Sams — Greg is a high profile wheelchair user, pioneer in natural foods,
a fractal artist, social thinker and author. Our trustees meetings are
held in his accessible house in West London. Greg also acts as an advocate with
the TLC Trust.
Richard Sheppard — Dick came to us as Door Manager at our fundraisers and has
great organizational skills and contacts. He has been following the progress of
Outsiders for some years now, and is keen to contribute where he can.
Lionel Roth — Lionel is a communications and presentation consultant. He
is married to one of our consultants, Alex, who has MS, so his experience of
disability is very personal. His talents are presenting material in the most
effective way, and problem solving.
Jonathan Werren — Jonathan works in and around public affairs, central and
local government organizations and supports a charity for widows in troubled
areas of the world.
Rodney Hedley —
Rodney is the manager of the Hilsden Charitable Fund
and has worked in the charity sector all his life.
He has always been a supporter of Outsiders and included
praise of all the work we do for so little money in his book
(as co-editor) Introduction to the Voluntary Sector.
Dawn Powell —
Dawn attends the meetings and takes the minutes.
Jeff Dexter — Jeff was intensely involved in the whole evolution of
popular culture in the 1960s: he put on shows at the Round House, worked with
John Peel, and managed numerous rock bands. However, Jeff is still a very
thoughtful, kind and capable human being.
Victoria McKenzie — Victoria was trained in the subject
of sex and disability in her work in New York.
Back home, Victoria ran the workshops at the Outsiders London Lunches
until she became ill with ME. The experience of this illness
confirmed to her how very important Outsiders is.
Barry Roberts —
Barry Roberts is our Health and Safety Officer and connects with members at lunches and online.
His is dyslexic and has much experience of disability.
He runs Outsiders fundraising stalls and is generally a good egg.
Jaspre Bark — novelist, children’s author and comics writer.
In 1999 Jaspre was awarded a Fringe First at the Edinburgh International Festival.
Caroline Bowditch — beautiful, brittle-boned
dancer with the Scottish Dance Theatre, teacher and high profile speaker on
disability and personal issues.
Dr Petra Boynton —
lecturer in International Health Services Research, Petra lectures on evidence
based healthcare and has received a large number of prizes and awards.
Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon — Reader in Psychology and Social Policy at
Birkbeck College, London, recently diagnosed with chronic inflammatory
disability Lupus erythematosus.
Laurence Clark — prize-winning comedian and stand-up comic with Cerebral Palsy whose
work centres around disability. His latest show is Spastic Fantastic. Laurence
writes a regular column for the BBC Ouch! Website.
Sue Dawson — an actress who starred as a disabled person in East Enders and The
Really Wild Show on BBC1.
Jane Gibbin — Jane was the online agony aunt for Youreable and ran a psychosexual
counselling service for people with disability and their partners.
Mat Fraser — famous Thalidomide martial artist, drummer, actor,
co-presenter of Ouch!, disability activist, MC and cabaret artist.
Barry Humphries AO, CBE — Australian comedian,
satirist, Dadaist, landscape painter, artist and character actor perhaps best
known for his alter ego Dame Edna Everage.
Phillip Hodson — broadcaster and author who
popularized phone-in therapy in his role as Britain’s first agony uncle.
Alison Lapper MBE — British artist born without
arms and shortened legs. She leapt into fame when a sculpture of her pregnant
body was mounted in a plinth in Trafalgar Square.
Malcolm Pearce — company director and devoted
follower of Outsiders fundraisers, who generously donates a thousand pounds a
year, in the hope that others will do likewise.
Susan Quilliam — author of the “New Joy of Sex”
and of many other publications, “Body Language Secrets: Making Love Work” being
Outsiders Library Book No 500, well-reviewed in INSIDE No. 45.
Mik Scarlet — famous disabled musician, TV
presenter, radio host, actor and newspaper columnist. Mik carries out access
audits and assists companies ensure they are DDA compliant.
Dr Annie Sprinkle — sexual evolutionary, artist
and freestyle pioneer, currently living in San Francisco and touring the world
with her Love Art Lab. Annie has enjoyed many disabled friends and clients.
Alex Cowan — Sex & disability adviser and spokesperson
Shital Shah — counsellor for disabled people and personal adviser to Dr Tuppy Owens.
Adam Thomas — trainer at the
and adviser to Dr Tuppy Owens.
Roger Clements FRCS FRCOG (Ed) FAE
retired Consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician,
Founding Governor of the Expert Witness Institute, Fellow of the Academy of Experts
and member of the Clinical Disputes Forum.
Dr Antony Lempert GP and Chair of the Secular Medical Forum
Susan Quilliam author of The New Joy of Sex and sex educator.
We have a small office in an accessible office block in
Islington. Our office volunteers love working together in this safe
environment. Because most are disabled, they come in when they can, and share
the load. They deal with the membership process, renewals and correspondence
and phone calls from members and the public. They provide a free forwarding
service for members who don’t wish to have their full address printed in the Membership List.
New members are sent a copy of Practical Suggestions, the
membership list and the latest INSIDE. Once this has arrived, they receive a
phone call to see that they are happy and things are working out for them. All
members receive a birthday card on their birthday.
Volunteers sign our Confidentiality Form to say that they
will not disclose details of our members to anyone else. Volunteers meet up
once every two months, sometimes with Trustees, to discuss progress.
Eleni Stephani, our hub
The Club helpline is run by Eleni from home from 2 — 7pm
weekdays. She records each call and the subject matter.
Apart from the regular lonely members who call her for a
chat, Eleni says the volume of calls varies enormously, depending on whether
there is a member in crisis or not.
Mostly, she receives two calls per day from members
seeking information and advice.
It is essential for us that we never become like many
charities, like a call centre, and that one volunteer has a grip on the
dynamics of the club, and can offer a personal service when members call.
Nobody has ever complained about this service, even though they may need to
wait a few days for Eleni to return the call if she is away staying her her
boyfriend. Eleni is the hub of Outsiders and yet she knows she can pass the
work over to Janet if she is not feeling up to it.
INSIDE is an attractive A5 black & white publication sent to all members and associate members.
Blind members receive copies on tape, or by email.
The magazine is also put up on this website in various formats.
The purpose of INSIDE is to provide members and associate members
with an update on what is going on within the club, and give members a
chance to express their views.
Each issue usually features a disabled artist who struggles/d with socializing and/or finding love.
This is handled by a member and volunteer, Sarah Battan.
The magazine includes
updates to the Practical Suggestions book,
lists of forthcoming events,
a problem page,
Aspie Corner for people with neurodiversities,
the Mandi Peers’ Clubbing Column,
interviews and news.
Everything in INSIDE focuses on things which will help members enjoy life in a personal sense.
Some members do not have computers, so cannot see
it online; and all members seem to enjoy receiving the magazine through the post.
One member told us, “Everytime I feel depressed, I read
a copy of INSIDE and that always cheers me up.”
Recently-retired Head of Treloar College, Graham Jowett,
when speaking about his college policy on sexuality (on which all other college
policies are now based), referred to what he had learned from the “Aunty Tuppy”
problem-page columns in INSIDE.
Outsiders workshops are run at the Lunches. We have found
that transport is a big problem for many of our members so the less they need
to travel, the more likely they are to attend. The workshops break up the
lunches neatly and are not compulsory, leaving the non-attendees a chance to
chat in peace!
All kinds of workshops have been run. The most frequent is
the “Body Image Workshop” where members tell the others what they think is the
most appealing thing about themselves, and what is the most off-putting. The
rest of the group then tell them how they see things. These workshops are very
useful and always conducted with care.
Recently, we decided that many of the men in Outsiders
never seemed to find a girlfriend, so we asked the PUI experts to come in and
teach them. PIU stands for Pick Up Artist, and experts normally charge a
thousand pounds a lesson. We managed to get one of the top boys, Richard La
Ruina to come for free and he certainly taught us a thing or two. After that at
least one of our long-term male members started a long-term relationship that
is still thriving.
Workshops are written in in INSIDE for those who are
unable to attend.
Dr Tuppy Owens
SHADA was started by Outsiders in 2005 to bring together
telephone helpline operators and professionals who are concerned with the
stigma surrounding the sexual happiness of disabled people. There are now over
a hundred members who meet in London twice a year to share their experiences
SHADA ran a conference with the Royal Society of Medicine
on 13th November 2009 called Disability: Sex, Relationships and
Pleasure. This was a great success and reported in two pages in The Times.
Katie Wiltshier, SHADA
SHADA has produced policy guidelines for GPs, surgeons,
therapists, residential homes, colleges disability agencies, and for those wishing
to use sex workers in their care plans and work.
The group’s reputation is spreading world-wide and SHADA
now has its own website: www.shada.org.uk.
Sex and Disability Helpline
See our contact page for helpline details.
We took over the Sex and Disability helpline after SPOD closed down in 2003.
Thankfully they left us with a very well-publicized service.
There are about four calls a day from health professionals
and disabled people. Calls usually only last around 4 minutes. Callers seem
delighted that they have at last reached somebody who takes their problem
seriously. Many call back to provide feed-back and discuss more
Sometimes it is appropriate to pass on the contact details
of local counsellors and therapists who specialize in disability.
This helpline is becoming a wonderful source of knowledge
which gets passed on from one caller to another.
For example, people with Spina Bifida who have never experienced orgasm
say that they can easily orgasm if they try stimulating alternative areas
such as the prostate. Spina Bifida is a disability which never attracted
much medical research funding, unlike Spinal Injury .
We are delighted that academic institutions are carrying out research to validate our work,
especially the Sexual Respect Tool Kit. For example, Kerry Dyer
of the Institute of Health, Life and Social Sciences
Roshan das Nair
of the Institute of Work, Health and Organizations
published a paper in 2012,
“Why don't Healthcare Professionals talk about sex?”.
This confirms to us that at last we are being taken seriously.
Some of our research is done via the
Sex and Disability Helpline.
Callers with certain difficulties go away to experiment, and report
back to report progress. Quite remarkable discoveries have been unearthed.
In 2009, Outsiders carried out a survey together with the
TLC Trust, using the Freedom of Information Act, to find out how Social
Services around the country view the importance of disabled people being able
to enjoy a personal life, and what freedoms they provide/allow. Results can be
Some research is done in our workshops, simply listening
to members speak about their lives. It was there we discovered that, for
example, some disabled men are actively discouraged from starting friendships
with women by their health care professionals.
Other research is done using the telephone, asking members
questions about their lives. Outcomes are reported in INSIDE.
Outsiders campaigns for the sexual freedom of disabled
people. We try to reach health care professionals, including surgeons,
therapists, and social workers to persuade them to include issues of sex and
relationships in their services and heath care packages. Our biggest success to
date has been our conference “Disability: Sex, Relationships and Pleasure” with
the Royal Society of Medicine on Friday 13th November 2009.
Outsiders currently runs the Free Speech Campaign for
people with speech impairments to be accepted as sexual partners and be better
On Tuesday 26th February 2008 around 50
disabled people lined the south side of Westminster Bridge in London to protest
about the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill which aimed to make it illegal
to pay for sex or download extreme pornography. They had collected testimonies
that sex workers and porn stars work of their free will. Banners were held with
slogans such as “Don’t disable my Libido” . That afternoon, the section on
pornography was dropped from the Bill.
Filming the demonstration on Westminster Bridge
On 2nd February 2002, we visited the Department of Health
to discuss sexual expression being included in care packages of direct payments.
It seemed that they are willing to take this on board, and we are sending them material containing hard facts.
Working with other Groups
In 2011, Outsiders invited all our neighboring
physical, sensory and social disability groups in Islington to get together
so we can support and help each other.
The aim is to try to make a joint concerted effort to find isolated disabled people in the borough,
and encourage them to come along to our lunches / join our club.
The project climaxed with
Independence Day on 4th July 2011,
which may become an annual event in September called Sexual Freedom Day.
Tactile play in action at Independence Day on 4th July 2011
We have developed the Sexual Respect Tool Kit
— a project to help GPs and other health and social care professionals
become more comfortable initiating discussion around of sex and relationships.
Outsiders is working with
disability consultant and sex and disability peer support counsellor;
founding Governor of the Expert Witness Institute and retired gynaecologist;
GPs Antony Lempert and Daniel Atkinson; writer Susan Quilliam;
sex therapist at Stoke Mandeville;
oncology nurse Sue Lennon;
social worker Sally Lee;
and sex therapist Sue Newsome. The project has so far been funded in part by Awards for All.
Outsiders is often asked to help with conferences and training on sex,
relationships, and disability; and we help agencies such as the
Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) with their leaflets on sex and relationships.
In June 2010, our coordinator, Dr Tuppy Owens was made a member of the FPA Achievers Club.
Outsiders is attempting to work with groups that support people with Visual Impairment ,
and would like to work towards a sex book for blind people.
We know this is would fill a huge gap even though it might not be commercial, and our initiative is ongoing.
Our conference at the Royal Society of Medicine in November 2009 put Outsiders in the limelight with some of the major disability charities and highlighted our expertise and professionalism. Dr Tuppy Owens worked with Linda Lewis, who ran the helpline at ASBAH, to compose the Policy Guidelines distributed at the Conference.
Outsiders and Shakti Tantra ran an “Inner Nature” day on 7th October 2009 for people with spinal cord injury,
to learn and discuss their sex lives and offer peer support.
Currently, Outsiders works with a few other small charities such as the Elfrida Society and Extant,
exchanging information and expertise.
Outsiders works with small charities such as Danda to support people with neurodiversities.
We have an
page in INSIDE to help our Aspergers members find other groups, and so find more help and support.
We exchange links with useful websites, such
Two TV documentaries have been made about
Outsiders. The first, “Skin Horse” was screened in 1983 on Channel 4 and
received several awards in the USA.
“Disabled and Looking for Love” was screened
on BBC3 in February 2006 and its director, Clare Richards, won the 2006 Grierson
Award for Best Newcomer.
Outsiders is frequently mentioned by the
agony aunts and featured in magazines and newspaper articles, the most recent
being the two page spread on the conference in The Times, a very
positive article about our work in Filament magazine, and
a feature in Disability Horizons.
We are asked to speak about our work at various events such as:-
- Conferences —
in June 2012, Dr Tuppy Owens spoke at “Getting Back to Basics”,
a conference for Hospices and people working with disabled people with life-threatening conditions at the Rainbows Hospice, and at “Relationships after Head Injury — More Important than life itself?” at the British Association of Brain Injury Case Managers Summer Conference. She was also invited to speak at the 2012 Sexual Health conference at Greenwich University, at the 2011 Sexual Freedom Conference in Washington, and at the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) conference in Glasgow in June 2011.
- Disabilitiy charity AGMs — for example, at Different Stroke s and ASBAH
- NHS clinics training sessions — for example, at
the Jefferiss Wing Centre For Sexual Health at St Mary’s Hospital, London
Funding, Finances & Accounting
Outsiders is funded through several different sources:
- Membership fees and donations from members (sometimes the donations are larger than the fees!). This income is used to produce the Membership List and INSIDE
- Fundraising events run by the Leydig Trust.Funds are paid into the Trust account and used to pay the office rent and volunteers travel expenses
- Grants which are used to pay for projects. We hope to gradually include core-funding in our appeals, so that Outsiders can become sustainable
- Donations from well-wishers, which pay for running costs
- Selling expertise — not yet put into place
Sadly, we never seem to receive legacies from our members.
This is thanks to the fact they need to keep Outsiders a secret, as their families disapprove of them trying to enjoy a personal life.
Outsiders banks with Lloyds TSB. Our coordinator handles our accounts and presents them to the Trustees before handing them over to our independent auditor.
In the winter of 2009, our coordinator attended a course in social, environmental and economic accounting
run by the Social Enterprise Academy.
We are just beginning to implement this style of accounting, which is giving volunteers renewed enthusiasm.
Our Annual Report
Annual Report 2011–2012
(PDF file 1,110KB)
Annual Report 2011–2012
Annual Report 2010–2011
(PDF file 408KB)
Annual Report 2010–2011
Annual Report 2009–2010
(PDF file 418KB)
Annual Report 2009–2010