About us

Joanna North Associates have been trading over ten years. Through our Ofsted Outstanding Intermediary Services we specialise in reuniting relatives affected by adoption. We offer a service to locate and contact birth relatives.

Meet the team

Ryan Shaw

Managing Director


Ryan is our Managing Director and Ofsted registered Responsible Person. He oversees all our work along with our registered manager Jo North. Having been involved in the field of People Searching for over fifteen years he is well equipped to help us through the challenges. Whilst the team are busily involved in people searching and customer liaison, Ryan is taking care of the environment and supporting the development of the team. He solves our operational problems for us and keeps the whole organization in a fit state so that we can focus on our work.

Ryan is a member of the Institute of Directors. The IOD charter requires the Institute to support the development of the skills and expertise of directors and their equivalents, research and disseminate best practice in corporate governance and represent the interests of its members to government and other public fora.

Dr. Joanna North

Registered Manager & Head of Counselling


Dr. Jo North is our expert on psychological support for Adoption Intermediary Work. She is also our Registered Manager ensuring that we keep our Standards of work to a high ethical standard, taking care of and supporting our clients through this process and managing safeguarding. Jo brings a wealth of experience to the role with 15 years in Adoption support and 30 in the field of psychotherapy and mental health. She has three books published on mental health and her extensive c.v. demonstrates a lifelong dedication to mental health and wellbeing. In 2017 she was awarded the British Psychological Society’s prestigious Distinguished Contribution to Psychology in Practice Award for her Adoption Support work. She is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and Chair of Ethics for United Kingdom Council for the Psychotherapy Children and Young People Section and formerly Chair of British Psychological Society Psychotherapy Section.

Due to her extensive experience Jo North is now placed as Chair Elect for the Safeguarding Advisory Group of the British Psychological Society.

David Oates

Research Director

Dave has been working as a long-lost family tracer and intermediary for 10 years, specialising in adoption over the last three years. During this time, he has built a wealth of experience to assist in the accurate tracing of lost relatives in the UK and around the world. His work has featured on several TV shows including BBC1s family Finders and TLC’s separated at birth. He has also been invited to speak on the subject on BBC Radio Five Live. Dave has also gained a lot of knowledge and expertise in the sensitivity around intermediary work and how clients and subjects can feel through the process.

Professor Nick Sarra

Organizational Consultant

Professor Nick Sarra – Joanna North Associates

Nick is a Consultant Psychotherapist in the NHS, engaged primarily in supporting healthcare staff particularly for teams after difficult events. He also works privately as an organizational consultant and clinical supervisor and is helping us at JNA with our work together as a team, addressing organizational dynamics and the complex situations that we manage in our work.  Nick is a Qualified Group Analyst (member of the Institute of Group Analysis) and mediator. He has consulted to and mediated for numerous organizational groups particularly within healthcare both in the UK, Europe and USA. He has also been involved in a number of post conflict situations such as South Sudan and the aftermath of the Beslan hostage taking crisis in Ossetia.  Professor Sarra teaches on organizational dynamics programs at two universities including Exeter School of Psychology and Hertfordshire Business School.

Nick lives and works in Devon but has also lived and worked in the Sudan, People's Republic of China and Saudi Arabia.  We are lucky to have him with us in both Leeds and Devon.

Lorraine Thomas

Counsellor, Psychotherapist

Lorraine Thomas – Joanna North Associates

Lorraine is a member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy as an accredited Psychotherpist/Counsellor and she has a degree in Creative and Expressive Art Therapies from Anglia Ruskin University (2010).  She has worked in the field of child and adult mental health for twenty years and is committed to the mental health and wellbeing of children, adults and families.  Lorraine is also passionate about helping people get the right support that they need to help them move forward in their life.  She is a committed and energetic support to our team, helping with counselling and consultation.  She loves to learn and in recent years has trained in systemic family work and has qualifications for helping clients with trauma.   

Alison Schofield

Intermediary Administrator

Alison joined us in November 2019 as adoption administrator. Alison brings with her a wealth of experience in Customer Service and Relationship Management built up over many years in the Telecoms industry. As the administrator it is Alison’s role to ensure we stay organised. She does a lot of the unseen hard yards that go into adoption intermediary work. Alison keeps our clients updated and ensures that the agencies we contact get the information they need to help process your search.

Sophie Joynes

Intermediary Support

Sophie supports Alison and Dave in their work and is an asset to the team. She is committed to continuous development within the organisation and is training as a counsellor this year so that she can be even better at her intermediary work. Sophie particularly helps Alison keep our admin systems running smoothly. She also helps us with client feedback. We could not do without her on our team and she helps us to achieve best possible outcomes for our clients.