My name is Dean and I am an accessible communications assistant for Mencap, on the accessibility team. My job involves making sure documents are easy to read and are accessible to someone with a learning disability.
I have been a judge for Mencap's annual photography and film competition Snap! for a few years now and was asked to judge again this year. I always really enjoy being a judge. This year I thought the day was a really perfect day. Everything was brilliant about it.
This year the judging happened at Somerset House, there were 11 judges in total. I normally get a bit nervous about the Snap! judging as I know how much time and effort people put into their entries so I want to judge every single entry very carefully.
This year's panel
This year the judges who had a learning disability like me and Lorainne Bellamy all had individual support, I had Chloe Harvey as my individual support she was really great on the day. I think it worked well having individual support as we were able to take our time over the entries and communicate our thoughts on each entry to the rest of the judging panel. I found the afternoon a bit tiring but Chloe kept me going. I think all the judges got on really well as a team, we discussed which entries we liked and then had a voting system to pick the winners. The entries for Snap! were of a very high standard again this year, they seem to get better each year.
Being a judge
Being a judge was thoroughly enjoyable. This year in particular I think the judging panel got on really well and we all came to a group decision on each winner. This year a winner from last year was invited to judge; father and daughter John and Shauna, I think this was a really good idea. I sat next to Jon Cohen, FUJIFILM Business Group Manager for the judging, I have judged with Jon for a few years now and get on well with him. When I arrived Jon said:
'I was hoping you were going to turn up today and be a judge' to which I said back 'Snap!'
All the judges and facilitators made me feel very comfortable and welcome. I felt my opinions were heard and listened to. I think all the judges seemed to enjoy the day.
The staff who organised and helped on the day were excellent, they included Jo, Anna and Catherine. They were amazing and helped us sort through the photos, making sure everything was tidy and running smoothly. The day was really well organised overall.
As always I loved the photos. It's a shame we can’t pick more winners. The stories that went with the photos were great too. I think Snap! is an important competition as it helps people to understand learning disability. It's great that everyone can enter whether you have a learning disability or not, the image or the film just needs to be about a learning disability. Each image has a different story to tell, some are incredibly moving. With each image you see the person and not the disability which is how it should be, that’s why I think Snap! is so important.
At the end of the judging Mark Goldring, Mencap's chief executive came down to thank us all for our hard work on the day, this was really nice and I think all the judges really liked this too.
It really was the best snap judging day I have been to, everything was great. I'm looking forward to the awards ceremony at the Rich Mix arts centre in Shoreditch in a couple of weeks.