Luke (he/him) sitting on a wooden bench under a tree with shadows of leaves falling on his face and clothes. He's wearing a black tshirt and an open grey-white check shirt. He manages Staying Well mental health service

“This experience is helping me learn and develop”

Luke is the Team Manager for UOK’s Staying Well Brighton & Hove mental health service at the Wellbeing Hub at Preston Park. In this story, Luke tells us what his role involves and why he enjoys it.

“My name’s Luke and I’m the Team Manager for Staying Well Brighton & Hove at the Wellbeing Hub at Preston Park.

I’ve been in post for about nine months now. I wanted to go into management for more responsibility and challenges so I could progress within the mental health sector. This experience is helping me learn and develop, giving me opportunities for new experiences. In time the challenges won’t be challenges, they’ll become new skills.

Staying Well Brighton & Hove is an out-of-hours crisis prevention support service for adults that we deliver with the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SPFT). Open seven days a week, 365 days a year, it provides psychosocial support within a safe, supportive and therapeutic environment.

There is a practitioner on each shift, such as an Occupational Therapist, Social Worker, or Mental Health Nurse. We also have Peer Workers who can spend time with clients and bring their own lived experience to their conversations. This is one of the unique aspects of the service and something that we and our clients really value.

A service like this is important because there may be individuals who attend A&E regularly but don’t come out with much of a substantial outcome. Instead, we’re able to provide someone with a space to feel safe with practitioner support if needed and help release pressures on A&E services.

In East Sussex this is the first out-of-hours walk-in crisis prevention mental health service that doesn’t require someone to attend A&E first. We can offer this service because of our partnership with the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Partnership working like this means it benefits staff because we all learn from the practitioners and their perspectives. It’s been a good learning opportunity for all of us here. It also means we can be more robust with our safety planning having clinically experienced colleagues around.

I meet with other Staying Well Managers and the SPFT Manager every couple of weeks. I enjoy that aspect of it, seeing how it all works more strategically in the system of urgent care services. I also liaise with them around their staffing provisions because they provide us with a practitioner per shift.

I fell into the mental health sector when I started working bank shifts at a local mental health hospital during university. I liked working with people. Before becoming Team Manager at Staying Well Brighton & Hove, I worked as a Mental Health Support Coordinator for the Emotional Wellbeing Service in the Primary Care Network.

Initially, I wasn’t keen on the out-of-hours aspect of this role but I decided to apply for the management experience. It definitely works for me more than I initially thought it might! I work a mix of client-facing evening shifts and 9-to-5s.

I came into this role a month before the service changed the way it worked which meant it was really busy. I had to be really on top of my calendar and emails and stay organised. I also ensured I was spending time with the team and booking in one-to-ones with people.

I enjoy collaborating and problem-solving with the team and making plans for the evening.

Luke, Team Manager, Staying Well Brighton & Hove

As a Team Manager, there are the general line management responsibilities that come with the role including supervisions and holding team meetings, as well as recruitment and creating rotas. Quite a lot of my 9-to-5 days are spent promoting the service to other health and community services in the city to raise awareness, especially since the service changes.

We do reporting on a monthly and quarterly basis to our commissioners. You need to spend time to focus and make sense of what the data is saying, but I’ve always had someone to bounce ideas off and check that I’ve interpreted the data correctly.

The challenge of managing this service is that central support services don’t usually work out-of-hours. That can mean that resolving IT issues takes longer than it ideally should. It can also be a challenge to get the team on training sessions but the Training team have offered us in-person evening sessions and have been responsive to what the team need.

I genuinely enjoy this role. I enjoy collaborating and problem-solving with the team and making plans for the evening. As a walk-in service you can never fully predict how the evening will go, so you have to stay calm and composed in unexpected situations.

Having fairly extensive mental health service experience and holding one-to-one sessions with clients has also helped me gain interviewing and coaching skills that have helped with staff as well. It’s been a really good learning opportunity and I’m really enjoying my time here. One of the qualities that I feel I’ve brought coming into this role is a growth mindset – knowing there will be challenges in this role and learning from them.

I enjoy working with people. I like to think I’m an empathetic person and what’s important to me is seeing where someone’s at and offering them something that empowers them to take control of their own mental health crisis.”