What is TLC?
The TLC Trust is a branch of The Outsiders Trust, which is a social, peer support and dating club, run by and for people with invisible and visible disabilities.
This branch of the charity focuses on the provision of sexual and intimate services that are paid for by clients to service providers.
Our Mission is that disabled people can use sexual and intimate services to help them learn about physical pleasure and may enable them to move forward towards personal sexual relationships. Where this is not possible, we would like to ensure that all disabled people have access to sexual, sensual and intimate experiences.
The importance of this site – If we can help disabled people to be happy and enjoy more fulfilled lives, we feel we have achieved our goal.
We do not make any money from anybody featured on this website and rely on charitable donations and volunteers.
Why use TLC?
Our website is here for disabled people to easily find safe sexual services which are right for you. The site also supports you to make the most of these experiences. Plus, it provides other important useful advice to you, as well as for your care professionals, friends and parents if necessary.
Many disabled people want to find love and enjoy a happy sexual relationship. Unfortunately, there are many barriers to this, predominantly social stigma, but there can also be complex individual factors, including but not limited to communication difficulties and physical restrictions.
You may feel deprived of touch, human physical contact, or your experiences of this may be limited to receiving care. Intimate touch and sexual experiences can be very important to us as human beings and a lack of can cause us intense emotional distress and sometimes physical issues if we do not experience them. TLC is here to support you and give you these opportunities.
If somebody is never touched and sexually frustrated, they are not the best company, maybe depressed or even behaving badly. Having a sexual outlet changes everything.
What are all the reasons why disabled people use sexual services?
- You may want to be taught what your bodies are capable of, to experience pleasure and learn how to please a future partner.
- To enjoy a wonderful sexual, girlfriend or boyfriend experience.
- To lose your virginity.
- To experiment.
- For some, to have orgasms which otherwise you cannot achieve alone.
- To achieve a sense of normalcy and acceptance.
- Sexual expression may mean many things, and disabled people need to know that they will not be judged by their requests, however embarrassing they may find them. People who provide sexual services have heard it all before and work to the utmost discretion.
Full-Service Sex workers (often called ‘Escorts’) who share intimacy and sexual pleasures with clients. Some also offer more specialist practices such as BDSM, either as Dom or Sub and some cater to other fetish’s and kinks.
This is the predominant service provider that advertise on this site. Due to the lack of regulation in the sex industry we screen our workers. This simply means we know their identity (most workers use a pseudonym) and that we can checked that they have previous experience of providing sexual services and of disability. They have not been subject to DBS checks unless they have chosen to or references as due to the very intimate nature of their jobs, this is usually not possible. We have ensured however, that these practitioners take their role very seriously and we hope that they are trustworthy but cannot take responsibility for individual actions. You must take your own measures to ensure you are comfortable and safe.
Sex work is not like any other service industry job. Due to it’s intimate nature, workers can and do decide who they see and what they are comfortable doing. There should be lists on each providers profile saying what services they are happy to offer and what disabilities/ailments/symptoms they are happy to work with. Please ensure that what they offer matches your needs before you make contact.
Some Full-Service workers may also offer the practices listed below:
Tantric practitioners who teach goal-free sex and will provide sexual massage or maybe more if required.
Sexological bodyworkers and Psychosexual Somatic practitioners who use talk and touch to help remove sexual blocks and help the client move forward so that they can enjoy sex.
Striptease artists who provide a sexual performance with no touch by the client.
TLC was born back in 2000 at a Sexual Freedom Coalition Conference, entitled Let’s Start the Real Sexual Revolution. One of the speakers, a disabled man, James Palmer revealed his sadness at being a virgin in his mid-40s.
James joined forces with Dr Tuppy Owens to create TLC website. James created and managed the website for several years on a voluntary basis and left after a few years.
A small group of people, including International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW) founder, Ana Lopes and Professor Petrouska Clarkson, James Palmer and Dr Tuppy Owens had become enthusiastic about starting TLC as an educational academy, which would raise funds to train sex workers and disabled people. A pilot study was launched and it became immediately obvious that sex workers are not at all willing to be told how to work. Nor were there likely to be any funds forthcoming. The group dissipated, and TLC was left with just a website and a skeletal team.
The urgency of finding a way to continue this website came when a care home manager complained at a SHADA (Sexual Health & Disability Alliance) conference, about sexually inappropriate behaviour in her homes between staff and service users. She was delighted to hear that there are many Sex Workers who will work with Disabled clients and that Sex Work is totally legal.
Eventually we found a volunteer to develop an accessible site, Ian Hudson, using a design created by Dr Tuppy Owens. One of the first sex workers to have joined us offered to vet all the new profiles to ensure the sex workers were totally professional and responsible.
In June 2008 Dr Tuppy Owens spoke at the UK Network of Sex Workers’ Conference in Manchester. Her talk was about the sexual needs of disabled people and was very well received. Several delegates promised to take her stories to the Home Office. Catherine Stevens of IUSW spoke from the audience in support of TLC. Tuppy spoke again at the Sex Workers’ University Conference in Glasgow in spring 2014.
We had started to be applauded in the press:
“Organisations such as The Outsiders and TLC (Tender Loving Care) do invaluable work to recognize the sexual needs of disabled people and do what they can to help — campaigning in a pretty forthright way.”
Bel Mooney in the Daily Mail, 18th August 2010
In September 2008 Ariana Chevalier (one of our Sex Workers) was invited to speak at the ASBAH (Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus) AGM. Using a flip chart, PowerPoint presentation and a suitcase full of props, Ariana spoke eloquently and proved herself to be both an inspiration and obviously a very professional escort. We were proud to have her as part of TLC until she moved on.
Dr Tuppy Owens was invited to speak at the Different Strokes AGM. She thought it very important to introduce the audience to a Sex Worker, so everybody could see what professional and compassionate people they can be, and useful to help stroke survivors who cannot communicate verbally. Pru (another Sex Worker) was her “surprise guest”, and she stood up and spoke passionately.
In the same year, SHADA devoted half a day to the subject of sex workers and disability. Criminal Lawyer John Blandford came and spoke about the law and Ariana Chevalier came and spoke about her career in sex work. She stressed the importance of sex for a person’s health and wellbeing and described her services. She made this suggestion “Just as a residential home or college for disabled people has written in its brochure “priest available to visit” so should it have ‘sex worker available to visit’”. This met with a round of applause.
When the the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill 2007 came out, and we saw that the buying of sex was to be criminalised, disabled members of Outsiders, academics and Sex Workers decided to demonstrate. Our demo took place in the sunshine on Tuesday 26th February 2008. Around fifty people lined the south side of Westminster bridge, many in wheelchairs. There were cameras galore, with a TV documentary team and journalists fighting to interview demonstrators. Placards included “Don’t Disable My Libido” and “Disabled and Horny”. Women wearing Gordon Brown masks carried placards saying “‘We will do everything in our power that…the needs of disabled people are properly recognised’ Gordon Brown PMQs 23-01-07”. That afternoon, the clauses that would have banned people using sex workers were dropped from the Bill. The battle was over but sadly the war was not won.
When we are asked how this change of law would affect disabled people, we make it quite clear that disabled people would be the first and most badly affected clients. Other clients may continue to visit sex workers but disabled people who require support to access sexual services would lose this option. Disabled people who continued to purchase sexual services would be criminalised. It would become illegal for carers and support worker to assist disabled people. Some disabled people would totally loose any access to a sexual experience.
We are always speaking to journalists and reporters on the subject including in 2014, Ciaran Jenkins at Ch4 News and we are delighted that both journalists and the public have mostly been in support of disabled people enjoying sexual services.
TLC is proud that some of our Service Providers performed at the Royal Society of Medicine in London on 13th November 2008, to an audience who were moved to tears. Sue Newsome made love to quadriplegic Dominic’s head. He then spoke about why this has been so important to him. Having been promised help with sex at his spinal unit some 14 years before, which never came, it was through contacts in the Outsiders Club and Tuppy Owens that he first booked a session with Tantric sex worker, Sue. Sue talked about how important this work is for her, and their sessions are all about Dominic. Their performance was followed by Solitaire stripping in front of deaf-blind Jimmy, whilst the action was described to him via finger language by JJ. Once more the audience were captivated. Congratulations to the Royal Society of Medicine for allowing this to happen. We felt as if we were changing the world.
TLC is unique in the world and recognized on the SHADA International website as pioneering. In 2015, Tuppy Owens won the Innovation Award of Sexual Health and Human Rights UNESCO for all her projects, TLC included and published a book – “Supporting Disabled People with Their Sexual Lives” with another Trustee, Claire de Than.
In 2014 the website was considered old fashioned and we found a young severely disabled genius in Romania, Marius Sucan, who re-designed the site and persuaded Tuppy to rewrite it. Our logo at the time, was produced by the disabled film director Antony Buonomo.,
In 2015, Ian Hudson became too unwell to continue the work, so after a lovely partial re-design by Gillian Ray, the running of the site was taken over by expert John Keiller who lived not far away from Tuppy in the North of Scotland.
Due to the speed of the developments in technology – we have just had another revamp – this time paid for by a professional (made possible by a wonderful bequest in an Outsiders member’s Will) and so the site moves on! It will continue to be managed by a current Trustee and Sex Worker with help, love and consultation from Tuppy.
We continue to have a presence in the media and have fundraising activities each year, including The Sexual Freedom Awards. Recently one of our service providers was in short documentary for the BBC and another was in the discussion panel when it was shown on Victoria Derbyshire on BBC2.
We continue to fight against stigma for both our Disabled Service users and our Sexual Services Providers. There is still plenty to do as recently, again, there has been a push for a so called ‘sex buyers’ law to be brought in. In the past decade in Norway, Sweden, France, Canada and Northern Ireland – it has been made illegal to pay for sex. This is under the guise of helping to prevent trafficking which is a ludicrous proposition and has no basis in research or reality. Trafficking is already illegal under the Human Slavery Act (2015) but what has been shown through research is that criminalising any aspect of Sex Work, always makes it more dangerous for providers and clients alike.
A disabled man, named James Palmer, in conjunction with Dr Tuppy Owens.
- Co-Authoress of “Supporting Disabled People with their Sexual Lives” with Claire De Than (2015)
- Winner of the Innovation Award of Sexual Health and Human Rights UNESCO 2015.
- Finalist (Lifetime Achievement) in the Directory of Social Change Awards 2015 and 2018.
- Winner of Lifetime Achievement Award from the European Lifestyles Awards 2015.
James initially ran the website from the year 2000 following his meeting Tuppy at a Sexual Freedom Coalition Conference.
Tuppy was already the founder of The Outsiders Trust (1979) and SHADA (Sexual Health and Disability Alliance) and this was a natural progression as James was using paid sexual services. She had received a lot of feedback from both Outsiders members and callers to the Sex and Disability Helpline about disabled people’s sexual needs (since 1979!) and had heard of some having bad experiences with service providers. She realised the need to provide a safer and easier way for them to have good services and experiences.
Tuppy has a Diploma in Human Sexuality and has worked with and supported disabled people with their sexual lives for 40 years. She has been recognised by the Family Planning Association as one of the top achievers who has contributed to the sexual health of the UK.