Making brighter change

A spotlight on integrating change for a happier community, with our new director Frank Sims.

How long have you been working in the healthcare industry and why did you choose this profession as a career path?

I have been working for the NHS for 32 years, and I begin my journey because I had a passion for improving patient outcomes and experience. My drive to help others came from seeing my 94-year-old grandmother with dementia die slowly and painfully in hospital, after falling and breaking her hip.  That was a seminal moment for me when I decided that I must help the NHS do better.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved in some major changes in the NHS, including being part of the business case to rebuild The Royal Alexandra Children’s hospital in Brighton, and taking the role of lead director for their new hospital in Pembury, which is still the only NHS hospital in the UK with all single rooms.

My greatest moments have been the daily interactions with staff, patients and their families, especially when you see and hear how we have improved their lives.

What made you want to take on the role of Director at BNHC?

I wanted to work with a local charity that is passionate about providing health and well-being to all types of people, especially a place with a clear charitable purpose.  BNHC has been around for 40 years and is part of the fabric of Brighton and Hove. It continues to run community classes for the vulnerable and those who are disadvantaged. I share the values and spirit of BNHC and want to work with our teams and clients to develop more charitable offerings, in particular, to bring further support to a larger network of the community.  I am keen to maximise the use of BNHC’s centrally-located space and facilities so that it continues to be an accessible and thriving part of the city.

Why do you think healthcare services and centres can be so transformational in giving people a better life?

Wellbeing studios like BNHC as well as other community hubs and services that focus on community healthcare can take people out of their daily routine, enabling people to have time out from their stress.  Whether that is from the busyness of parenting or the homeless person escaping from the threat of the street.  A place for time out and space is a huge opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives.

What are some healthy habits that you implement daily/weekly into your life now, in comparison to say 20 years ago? 

Compared to 20 years ago, I now take breaks throughout the day and implement a ‘cut-off’ period where I move from work mode to non-work mode.  Having ‘’me’’ time is an important focus on mine now, I realised it enables you to give full focus on life around you. We must remember that others want and deserve 100% of us, and I think that can only be achieved if you look after your health and wellbeing also.

Have you always been good at focusing on your own well-being or would you say you are better at looking after others?

I’ve always been good at focusing on my physical well-being.  I’m an avid sportsperson that has always engaged in physical activity. It’s only the last few years that I have opened my mind to the need to embrace emotional and mental well-being and I’m now enjoying developing that side to create more balance in my life.

Have you tried any classes at BNHC yet?

I’m looking forward to sampling a range of classes and joining some in person and some online sessions to get the full experience. I’ve never tried Tai Chi, but have always been fascinated when I’ve seen this practised. BNHC gives me the chance to experiment and that’s exciting.  I’m looking forward to exploring more than just physical conditioning, and to find out how I can gain better emotional balance, having spent the last many years in complex and demanding roles that have been mentally challenging.  I’m looking for that new chapter of insight and integration, and I am enthusiastic about taking those next steps.

I’m also looking forward to using my 50% off voucher as a first-timer!

What do you think makes BNHC stand out in the region?

I think places like BNHC offer a unique approach to supporting all types of people. There is an inclusive focus in considering the physical, emotional and mental health needs of the individual, as well as looking at how we all can help our local community and society. This intention can only add value to our own lives and those of our neighbours/ friends if put into action. BNHC are taking that action.

What is your connection to Brighton and why do you want to support its community through BNHC?

I have lived in Brighton for 25 years, moving here for a job at the Royal Sussex County.  I’ve remained here, attracted by the lifestyle, people and the nature it provides.  I have spent a career building support and change with local communities and I want to do that locally in my home town of Brighton. The pandemic has brought forward the importance of interpersonal communication, space and the effects of isolation and I want to especially reach out to those who have been left on their own, those who are perhaps more on the fringes of society; I’m keen that we draw them closer and I think the brilliant community feel of BNHC is a great way of doing that. BNHC gives me the chance to give something back to the people of Sussex in an active way and I am very much looking forward to seeing the centre grow.

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Byline: Crystal is a yoga teacher and writer. She is Yoga Alliance certified in Yin, Hatha, Vinyasa, Swing/aerial and myofascial release, meditation, pranayama and Kundalini. She is also a qualified NLP practitioner and journalist. She loves cats, eco-friendly focuses and tea in all forms. You can email Crystal here.

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