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Rachael Duke

"When you need the NHS to help you, they pull together to help you as quickly as they can."

Rachael Duke works as the Head of Charity for Sussex Partnership’s charity, Heads On. 

Rachael joined the NHS four years ago after having previously working in the third sector, in various roles which included running the fundraising department at Guild Care in Worthing, and working as a Lottery grant maker within the film industry.

We asked Rachael what first made her want to work in the NHS: “If I am honest, I wasn’t actually looking to change job – I just saw an advert pop up one day and I thought it looked interesting! When I looked into the role, I thought it looked like a really good fit for me because it combined grant making and fundraising – both of which I had experience of from my previous jobs. I also really love a challenge, and this job was going to involve setting up a charity from scratch – it was an opportunity that I just had to go for and I am so glad that I did.

We asked Rachael what some of the challenges are of working in fundraising for an NHS mental health trust: “Our organisation covers a large geography which spreads across Sussex and Hampshire, and our sites consist of hospitals, clinics and other shared spaces. The average footfall we receive to these buildings is so small compared to what we would get if we were fundraising for one large hospital site, and could have a fundraising stand in our waiting area – this puts us in a very different position to our colleagues who work in acute services, which means we have to approach our fundraising in a different way.

“Something I also found quite surprising when I first joined the organisation was that there wasn’t a great understanding of what charitable fundraising can do to really compliment clinical NHS services. Through fundraising, we can provide courses and activities which will enhance service user’s clinical care – something that you can’t get on prescription - projects that will enhance recovery and in some cases, really change people’s lives.”

When speaking about how the organisations understanding of fundraising has changed, Rachael said: “In the last 12 months there has been a real cultural shift - more staff are getting involved in fundraising events and running their own activities to raise money for Heads On. This has really helped improve team comradery, whilst also raising money for their individual services.”

We asked Rachael why she thinks the NHS is brilliant: “The NHS gives a free health service for everyone – irrespective of individual financial situation. When you need the NHS to help you, they pull together to help you as quickly as they can.

“I think we do a disservice to constantly bash the NHS – they do a brilliant job with the limited money that they have and we are very lucky to have the NHS.”