DMU graduate named in top 10 of 2023 Disability Power 100

Campaigner Simon Sansome has been named one of the top 10 most influential disabled people in the UK in this year’s Disability Power 100.

Simon, who studied journalism at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and was on DMU's Crucible business incubation programme, founded Snowball Community, an app which allows people to review how accessible and wheelchair-friendly venues, restaurants and bars are – he nicknames it “TripAdvisor for the disabled”.

He was named winner in the Digital and Tech Category, and came ninth overall in the list, which is run by the Shaw Trust Foundation, a charity which campaigns for inclusion particularly in the workplace.


Simon said: “It was very unexpected but a lovely surprise, to have Snowball Community recognised. It has just grown massively over the past year and is the largest disability app in the world, showing the demand for change and information to help people like myself access the community”.

Snowball – available is on Apple and Android – has more than 100,000 followers on social media.

It has tens of thousands of reviews covering everything from venues to changing places and blue badge parking bays, making it the biggest disability app in the world and because it’s supported by Google Maps you can get Sat Nav directions to your location. If a place or business is not on the app, users can add new places and leave reviews.

All about creating change, the Disability Power 100 celebrates ambition and achievement, and plays a role in changing society by recognising the strengths and talents of disabled people who are pioneers, changemakers and influencers.

Simon became paralysed from the waist down when he was just 32. He was inspired to create Snowball after taking his wife to their favourite restaurant only to discover there was no wheelchair access. That led him to create a Facebook group, Ability Access, and then Snowball Community.

Last year Simon was one of the graduate start-ups supported by DMU’s Crucible project which helps graduates and alumni who have a business or an idea to get a programme of professional mentoring and masterclasses, alongside access to protoypes and business networks.

Percy Emmett, director of Crucible, said: “We honestly could not be prouder of Simon and what he has achieved – and continues to achieve – with Snowball. It’s not only a great business but it’s something which is a service to everyone and I look forward to continuing to support Simon and Snowball as part of the Crucible community.”

Crucible 2022 pic
Simon with the Crucible cohort of 2022

Sara Allen from Shaw Trust, the charity which curated the Disability Power 100 believes the list is more important than ever: “Our mission is to help people into good work. The sort of work we all want to do, but we know that if you are disabled you have fewer opportunities for good work – whether that is because workplaces are inaccessible, no flexibility in the hours or shift patterns, or simply because there is a complex online application form.

“A fifth of the UK’s population has a disability or impairment, however, there is very little recognition of successful and influential disabled people. Disabled people are more likely to be unemployed, and the gap is widening, and until we change the public perception of disability, to recognise strong, successful, influential people who are leaders in their field, this gap will continue.”

The list was topped by Dr Shandi Dhanda, who is a TV presenter and award-winning disability activist. She is founder of the Asian Disability Network.

Previous winners of the Disability Power 100 number one spot have included comedian and presenter Alex Brooker, campaigner and peer Baroness Jane Campbell and BBC disability journalist Nikki Fox.
The 100 finalists were selected by an independent judging panel chaired by Andrew Miller MBE from more than 1,500 public nominations.   

Posted on Friday 10th November 2023

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