A sexual-abuse survivor is helping others stay mentally well during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Patrick Hill, who was abused at St Bernard’s Lower Hutt, has set up free online mental health coaching sessions called Positive with Patrick.
“I have lived an intense and painful life but my story is one of incredible strength, resilience and hope,” he said.
Hill, who is now 46, was abused when he was a young teenager by Marist brother Patrick Bignell. In 2015 he instigated Bignell’s prosecution, which led to his conviction for abusing Hill and two other boys.
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In 2019, he successfully campaigned for a Marist Brothers Old Boys Rugby Club trophy named after convicted sex offender Claudius Petitt to be renamed.
But now Hill has turned his sights towards helping people through the pandemic with coaching videos, uploaded on his Instagram account.
It is not a huge shift for Hill, who has been coaching people for the last three years.
It bookends his 20-year career as a primary school teacher, where he started coaching his colleagues. His work was so successful the governing body funded his coaching training.
But it wasn’t until Hill came home to New Zealand to spend time with his dying mother that he decided to move into fulltime coaching.
He stayed in the country for eight months to support his family in late 2019, before his mother died in April last year. He returned to the UK last June, and decided to focus on his coaching business full time.
Now he is making videos to help people who are struggling with their mental health from his home in south London.
“I do it on my coaching couch called #positivewithpatrick,” he said.
Money worries, and concerns about vulnerable family members and friends are common concerns.
“People are really scared now,” he said. ”People are desperate to talk to each other and connect because no one is seeing anyone any more.”
He isn’t short of ambition, with hopes to get Jacinda Ardern, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Dolly Parton on to his coaching couch for his series.
And he has one piece of wisdom for everyone.
“Your health and the health of your loved ones is the only thing that matters in life.”