The Old Pocklingtonian Old Pocklingtonian 2017-18 - Page 10
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
“I loved my time at Pock; it was probably the
best thing that ever happened to me,” she says.
“You make friends for life – Gemma Gray
(96-06) is still my best friend – and it becomes your
family. Whenever I see OPs at events it’s big hugs
JODIE LEADS CHARGE TO
IMPROVE MENTAL HEALTH IN
It has been quite a year for OP Jodie Hill (00-06).
She established her own law practice, launched
a national campaign to install a mental health first
aider in every workplace, became engaged - and
celebrated her 30th birthday.
Jodie also credits Pocklington School with giving
her the support to pursue a legal career. “I had no
connections in the field but the OP network helped
me gain lots of experience. OP Simon Spence QC
(74-81) mentored me while I was initially training as
a barrister. He’s amazing.”
The Managing Director of employment and HR
practice Thrive Law, based in Leeds, has appeared
on national television to talk about her campaign,
enlisted the support of MPs and also organised a
Mindful Employer conference in Leeds.
Jodie’s passion and energy stems partly from her
own experience of mental ill-health, together with a
sense of injustice at the discrimination many people
encounter in a workplace.
She says: “It’s said one in four people experience
mental health difficulties at some point but everyone
knows someone who suffers – so that means we’re
“As a solicitor dealing with employment issues, I
see people who are at best extremely stressed.
They’re worried about losing their job and often
haven’t spoken to colleagues about how they feel.
As a result, by the time they do seek help, they can
already need long-term sick leave.”
Poor mental health costs the UK between £73bn
and £97bn each year, and a study by professional
services firm Deloitte found that when employers
provided support for their workers’ mental health,
the cost to both the business and Government
Jodie says a mental health first aider course takes
two days and costs the company a few hundred
pounds. In return they gain a member of staff with
the tools to recognise the signs of mental ill health
and offer help.
The seeds of Jodie’s campaign were sown when,
as a Leeds Beckett University and BPP Law
School graduate, she worked for two years as an
Employment Discrimination Advisor in Bradford.
She saw first-hand the scale of workplace mental
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health problems, and the discrimination and stigma
which prevents many workers seeking help.
Jodie trained as a barrister and cross-qualified as
a solicitor in Leeds. By the time she was offered
a pupillage in London, she had discovered the
satisfaction of making a difference to people with
hands-on involvement and decided to stay on in the
city as a solicitor.
“I have suffered from anxiety for much of my life
and can understand clients’ distress, rather than just
being able to advise about their legal position. When
you’re empathetic, people gravitate towards you –
and I’ve become the go-to person for mental health
in Leeds,” she says.
Jodie is keen to give back to the Network and was
pleased to welcome OP Emelia West (05-15) to
Thrive Law as a marketing intern over the summer.
Emilia graduated from the University of Leeds with a
degree in Philosophy, Ethics and Religion in July 2018.
During her internship, Emilia has been responsible
for marketing and social media at the firm.
As Jodie builds Thrive Law’s profile and reputation,
she continues to lobby MPs, businesses and unions to
support her Change.org petition to make workplace
mental health first aiders mandatory.
To sign Jodie’s Change.org petition, go to: https://
Jodie (right), pictured with OP Emily West (05-15)
Jodie’s own mental ill-health led her to take time
off in 2017. She returned to work having made the
bold decision to launch Thrive Law, which is focused
on helping employees and employers thrive in the
She said: “Turning a negative into a positive massively
helped my own mental health. It gave me something
to focus on and I realised I could use my experience
to help other people.
Jodie’s drive and energy was much in evidence at
Pocklington School, where she captained the hockey
team, played for the netball and tennis teams, joined
the choir, CCF, led House events, was Head of
Faircote Boarding House and more.
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