A Message of Hope this Christmas 2021 and New Year 2022

Source ? - Our Ryde logo

Happy Xmas and New Year to you all!

I am writing to you to wish you a Very Happy Xmas and New Year and thank you for all your support over the past 12 months. I send a special message to all those who have experienced Covid, illness and loss of loved ones. My heart goes out to you.

It has not been an easy year for all of us and when 2021 started we were faced with a further lockdown and we end the year still in the unknown. It is difficult but I believe we have to join together and spread a message of hope within our community. Many of us are now triple jabbed or waiting for your booster. This in it self is a message of hope and we are so lucky to have the NHS protecting us as much as humanly possible.

Although I have to admit I have had to really dig deep in finding a message of hope as a local IW and Ryde Town Council Ward Councillor for Ryde Appley and Elmfield, Mayor of Ryde and as IW Mental Health Champion this time. I personally have struggled mentally this year in trying to be positive and carry on making sure there is support for the most vulnerable in our community. I know many others have felt the same.

As a retired mental health and community worker professional I had since the 1970s the privilege and honour of working with refugee and asylum seeker communities escaping war, genocide and persecution from their countries of origin. These included people from Vietnam, Chile, Rwanda, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq and many other places. They often arrived in the UK with nothing, bewildered, little hope and traumatised. I specialised more and more in post-traumatic stress and also worked with veterans of war and people who experienced crisis and traumatic events. I learnt that you can “out of the ashes of disaster” rebuild your life and from a small flame of hope you can light a fire of recovery, resilience, opportunity and growth. 

I am currently focusing on two “hope and support” projects:

  • The Ryde Mayor’s Charity Appeal to raise extra funds for community and voluntary projects in Ryde that are supporting the most vulnerable in Ryde this winter of 2021/22. You can support this appeal by donating electronically or donate in collection boxes in Ryde at No 64 café on Cross Street, the Star Inn on High Street, No 66 Card Shop, and Crepe Lovers on High Street. I will be outside the Packs Building on Cross Streeton Tuesday (11am to 1pm) and the Co-op off High Street (11am-1pm) collecting.
Paying in details for The Mayor’s Charity.  
Bank: NatWest
Account Name: Ryde Town Council Mayors Charity
Account Number: 45 18 31 04
Sort Code: 54 41 07
Reference: Donation.  
  • As IW Council Mental Health Champion I am working in partnership with IW Public Health Department and IW Health Watch in developing and launching a Mental Wellbeing Small Grants Fund to support voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations to deliver innovative local projects to support mental wellbeing on the Island. These projects will be embedded in communities and will be responsive to local needs as expressed by service users, people with lived experience and ‘harder to reach’ groups. This will be launched on 10th January 2022 and will be part of Mental Well-Being campaign across the Island based around the NHS 5 steps to mental well-being which are connecting with people, being physically active, learning something a new skill or activity (you are never too old to learn something new!), helping and giving to others, and living in the moment (the present) and day by day grow. These steps resonate with me as I learnt those steps in my own life and learning from so many amazing people who rebuilt their lives out of war and genocide. I was so proud to open a Veterans Café on Ryde High Street last week which had been the inspiration of a Falklands War (40 years ago) veteran which will provide peer support, a cup of tea, and access to help for the 14000 veterans and their families that live on the Island.

I wish you again a message of hope for 2022 and please have good cheer over this festive season with those around you. I send a special thank you to all those who are working this Xmas/New Year whether in the NHS, Emergency services, local shops and all the services we need to live our lives.

Best wishes and season greetings


Cllr Michael Lilley

Ryde and Appley and Elmfield Ward IWC and RTC Councillor,

Mayor of Ryde,

IW Council Mental Health Champion

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