Help with hoarding
It’s National Hoarding Awareness Week (20 – 24 May) and social housing providers across the UK are using the occasion to draw attention to an important issue.
Serious clutter, or hoarding, and the complex personal, health and social issues that lie beneath its many layers is a challenge faced by us and all other housing providers.
The problem can have a significant impact both on the customer and their family – who may be at risk of losing their tenancy – and also on the welfare of neighbours and the local community.
There is a financial impact too as housing providers need to maintain their stock in good condition as well as comply with health and safety standards.
What is hoarding?
Hoarding is a very misunderstood condition and estimates suggest that it affects about 1.2 million people in the UK.
Hoarding sees people collecting and keeping lots of items, even things that appear useless or of little value to most people. These items can include newspapers, books, containers, clothes, plastic bags and animals.
These items clutter the living spaces and keep the person from using their rooms as they were intended. It also affects the person’s ability to do day-to-day activities and can cause problems for people’s well-being and safety. Trips and falls are more common and there is increased risk of a serious fire.
What you can do if you suspect someone is hoarding?
If you are concerned about your own situation or think a family member or someone you know has a hoarding disorder, arrange to see a GP in the first instance. This may not be easy, as someone who hoards might not think they need help.
If dealing with a family member or friend try to be sensitive about the issue and emphasise your concerns for their health and wellbeing. Reassure them that nobody is going to go into their home and throw everything out. You're just going to have a chat with the doctor about their hoarding to see what can be done and what support is available to empower them to begin the process of decluttering.
The GP may be able to refer you/your family member or friend to a local community mental health team, which might have a therapist who's familiar with issues such as OCD and hoarding.
How can we help?
We are committed to supporting any customer who is living with a hoarding disorder. If you are concerned about your own situation or that of a family member, friend or someone you care for, please contact us as early as you possibly can to discuss the situation. Working in conjunction with other agencies where appropriate, we can offer advice and guidance on what we can do to support you.
Where can I find more help and advice?
There are lots of other organisations out there who also support people who hoard:
• OCD UK