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 all round.” JODIE LEADS CHARGE TO IMPROVE MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE 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 all affected. “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 dropped. 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 FOL LOW US KEEP UP TO DATE ON ALL THE LATEST NEWS AND INFORMATION @PocklingtonOPs 10 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 petition to make workplace mental health first aiders mandatory. To sign Jodie’s petition, go to: https:// mental-health-first-aider-in-the-workplace-should- be-mandatory. 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 workplace together. 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. have we got your email? DON’T GET LEFT OUT. SEND US YOUR EMAIL TO RECEIVE THE LATEST OP NEWS! keep in touch JOIN THE OLD POCKLINGTONIAN ASSOCIATION GROUP ON FACEBOOK