Mental health pioneer launches ‘Recovery So Far’ report

Michael Lilley, a pioneer in mental health, will next week present the ‘Recovey So Far’ report prior to stepping down as CEO of My Time Division, Richmond Fellowship (one of the UK’s largest mental health charities).

someone receiving counselling

Michael Lilley, current CEO of My Time Division, Richmond Fellowship (one of the UK’s largest mental health charities), shares this latest on behalf of Sascha Woolford. Ed


One out of four Islanders at any one time is experiencing depression and anxiety and they need support.

Michael Lilley experienced depression from his early teens on the Island before leaving in 1974. He returned in 2013 after 38 years of being a pioneer in mental health and community development to help in radically changing community mental health services on the Island that have been continually criticised as inadequate.

Developing peer-led services
Michael has spent the last two years working with those who use services to develop peer-led services which provide day to day Michael Lilleysupport 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.

On the 31st March 2017, Michael stands down after 17 years as operational head of the My Time Division of the Richmond Fellowship Group and in July on his 60th Birthday leaves the group for new adventures.

“Recovery So Far” report
On the 27th March 2017 Michael will be presenting his final report “Recovery So Far” to an audience of Island decision makers at Riverside Centre and officially handing over the leadership of the new Richmond Fellowship IW Locality Team to Sascha Woolford, a qualified nurse and 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.”

First service user owned mental health practice
In 2014, Michael Lilley was invited by IW CCG (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.

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 plus social enterprise and support over 2000 service users per year. It has won many national awards.

My Time and Richmond Fellowship merger
In 2013, My Time merged with the Richmond Fellowship with four other UK mental health charities to form one of the largest mental health charities in the UK. Michael moved back to the Island in 2013 with his wife as part of their pre-retirement plan and to support his elderly father who sadly died in Ryde in 2015.

In 2015, the Isle of Wight Mental Health Association handed over their community house (Quay House) to Richmond Fellowship in Newport and closed the charity. Michael sat down with the small band of committed volunteers and together they developed a plan which was given two year funding by CCG.

Over 500 service users supported annually
In two years, the My Time Division of Richmond Fellowship has built up a strong voluntary sector service on the Island with 11 staff, nine volunteers, nine peer champions, and over 500 service users supported annually.

In 2017, there is going to be a range of new services launched in partnership with the NHS and Isle of Wight Council.

Success stories
The Recovery So Far report tells how the development of a strong central based day centre has provided in two years evidence that active involvement of those who use and need services does enable people to recover.

One case study in the report tells the story of “Annie” who is a young mother of three who was stuck in acute services and in a very depressed condition was referred to Quay House and now back into employment through support from the Richmond Fellowship.

“Annie” says:

“Quay House gave me hope and I felt safe and listened to. They saw potential in me and did not see me as a patient. There is a wonderful warm atmosphere which made me feel valued and gave me hope. I love my job and look forward to coming every day. This is a long way from a year ago when I had no hope. I have my life back.”

From user of service to spokesperson
Justin Pinder was one of the first users of the new My Time Recovery Centre (Quay House) and now a lead spokesperson for mental health service users on the Island.

Justin says:

“I have had the pleasure in working closely with Michael since the very start of his journey with My Time IOW and Richmond Fellowship. Michael has been a true inspiration and he has worked tirelessly in making change. Michael has supported me on my journey and recovery, showing faith and belief in myself and others.

“Service users did not have a real voice on the decision making boards in regard mental health two years ago and Michael has campaigned for this. I am proud to be one of the first service users to sit on the Isle of Wight Mental Health Services Reconfiguration Board and this is down to Michael.”

Michael’s future plans
Michael has a range of plans in his 60s. Michael has been an active Age Friendly Ambassador in Ryde and in 2016 published his first children’s book “Papa 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 one of four 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.”

Image: alancleaver under CC BY 2.0

Monday, 20th March, 2017 4:36pm

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Filed under: Community, Health, Island-wide, Top story

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