After 38 years of being a pioneer in mental health and community development and 17 years as operational head of the My Time Division of the Richmond Fellowship Group, Michael Lilley is stepping down and moving on to new adventures.

In 1999, Michael founded ‘My Time’ which was the first service user owned mental health practice in the UK. Michael led it to become a million pound social enterprise which supported over 2000 people a year. By 2013 My Time merged with Richmond Fellowship alongside 4 other UK mental health charities to form one of the largest mental health charities in the UK.

Just a year later Michael was invited by the Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group, IW Community Action and the then Isle of Wight Mental Health Association to explore how the organisation he had founded in Birmingham over 20 years ago could support and invest in a new model of services led by the people who need them. Over the past 2 years Michael has been working with those who use mental health services on the Island to develop peer-led services which provide day-to-day support for real recovery and persuade the NHS and Isle of Wight Council to change direction from a medically model of service to one that is more holistic.

1 in 4 Islanders at any one time are experiencing depression and anxiety and they need support. Michael Lilley experienced depression from his early teens whilst on the Island before leaving in 1974.

Michael will be presenting his final report ‘Recovery So Far’ to an audience of Island decision makers at the Riverside Centre in Newport on Monday 27th March. Here he will officially hand over the leadership of the new Richmond Fellowship IW Locality Team to Sascha Woolford, a qualified nurse and fellow Islander.

Sascha says:

“Michael has been a true inspiration, mentor, teacher and role model. He is open and honest about his own mental health difficulties, which is an inspirational story which has motivated me.

“He has believed in me and all involved in IW Richmond Fellowship and Quay House. He has given hope to us that mental health services on the Island can change and improve by just listening to and involving people”.

Michael has a range of plans in his 60s. He has been an active Age Friendly Ambassador in Ryde and in 2016 published his first children’s bookPapa Owl and Rocket the Dog’s Big Flying Adventure” with local artist, Helen Stiles. The book was promoting the Age Friendly Island campaign and how older Islanders have much to give the younger generation.

Michael says:

“I see this as ending one cycle of my life and opening a new door to a new beginning. My dad died at 95 and he was still writing, inventing, campaigning for social justice and generally being proactive. On that count I have another 35 years to keep active and much to do.

“I am glad I have left Quay House and IW Richmond Fellowship in good hands and well resourced and wish to thank all the people who have supported me to build strong foundations in mental health services on the Island. I have always believed and still do that if there is a will on the Island, mental health services can go from inadequate to a centre of excellence in 12 months.

“I will be cheering on Sascha, Justin and the whole team from the side lines. I want to continue to give hope to the 1 of 4 of us who are depressed and anxious at any one time, you are not alone and there are people here on the Island that have got through it, including me”.

Comment on this story...

The views and opinions expressed by individuals in the comments section above do not represent those of Island Echo, it's employees or advertisers.