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Staff member organises lockdown photography competition

Posted: 03/06/20

A staff member from Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) has organised a lockdown photography competition, which will give staff and patients the chance to have their work exhibited at some of the region’s leading cultural spaces.

Dolores O’Doherty works as an occupational therapist at CNTW, a provider of mental health and disability services. She was inspired to start the competition as a way to make staff and inpatients’ exercise breaks more interesting.

The competition, which is open to staff and patients on inpatient wards, encourages people to take photos within the grounds of the Trust sites across the North East and north Cumbria.

Each ward will host their own competition internally before sending the winners on to Dolores. The winning photo from each ward will be sent to The Biscuit Factory who will judge the overall competition.

First, second and third from all wards will receive a prize, funded by the Trust’s SHINE Fund, and all the winning entries from each ward will be on display as part of an exhibition. The photography will be displayed at The Biscuit Factory in Newcastle and Alnwick Gardens, with venues in Cumbria and Sunderland to be confirmed, covering the Trust’s four localities.

The exhibitions will take place once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and the venues are able to re-open.

Dolores said: “It can be very stressful on the wards at the moment so I wanted to do something that would bring teams closer together and allow them to refocus their attention on something positive and creative. I wanted to make people’s break times more purposeful, giving people a reason to go outside.”

Dolores found a lot of patients didn’t want to go out anymore and a lot of patients were getting sick of walking the same route around the hospital sites, whilst staff were spending their breaks indoors not getting any fresh air.

“I want people to use their imagination and look at their surroundings in a different way,” Dolores added. “For example, taking a picture of something on a cloudy day and comparing the same thing in bright sunshine.

“We’re all in this together and need to support each other during this time in whatever way we can. The opportunity to have work displayed at The Biscuit Factory is really special as well.”

Rachel Brown, General Manager at The Biscuit Factory, said: “We were thrilled when we were approached to be part of the competition and wanted to support in any way possible. The photographic exhibition will provide a very particular and personal viewpoint of what has been an unprecedented collective experience.

“Through the lens of both care provider and patient, we will receive an insight into a hugely private and nuanced experience with shots from moments during lockdown. I expect the exhibition will resonate with everyone who sees it. It’s a privilege for me to be a judge on images that may help us understand that we are as fundamentally united as we are fantastically individual.”

The deadline for the competition is on Monday 29 June and the dates of the exhibitions are TBC.