Hoarding Awareness Week

It’s hoarding awareness week from the 15th - 19th May and we'll be raising awareness of it and the effect it has on people.

Hoarding is when someone keeps a large amount of items stored in their home space and this usually creates a massive clutter that can't be managed. Commonly hoarded items can include newspapers, magazines, paper and plastic bags, photographs, household supplies, food and clothing. This behaviour can often have harmful effects – emotional, physical, social, financial and even legal – for a hoarder, their family, friends and those who may care for them in a professional capacity.

Someone who hoards may can show lots of different types of behaviour such as:

  • Not wanting to throw things away
  • Severe anxiety when trying to throw things away
  • Not being able to decide what to throw away or keep
  • Distress, such as feeling overwhelmed or embarrassed about their possessions
  • Suspicion of other people touching items
  • Losing space in their home or becoming isolated from family and friends/ financial difficulties, health hazards at home

There are lots of reasons why a person hoards - they might think an item is valuable for the future or find it difficult to let go of something that they have had for so long.

This means that there can be lots of hidden issues that need support which is why we want to help.

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 emphasize 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 help 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. It's generally not a good idea to get extra storage space as this won't solve the problem and the clutter often quickly builds up again. 

Tenancies managed by Wolverhampton Homes

We are committed to supporting any tenant 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 and you/they live in a property managed by Wolverhampton Homes please contact us as early as you possibly can to discuss the situation. Working in conjunction with other agencies such as Social Services and West Midlands Fire Service where appropriate, we can offer advice and guidance on what we can do to support you.

If you would like to speak to someone about a situation which is concerning you please email us at housing.support@wolverhamptonhomes.org.uk

Fire Safety Tips for Hoarders (produced by London Fire Brigade)

If you store a lot of possessions in and around your home, you can help keep yourself safe from fire by following the advice below. The ‘top tips’ are small, simple steps that can easily be included in your regular weekly/daily clearance sessions.

  • Keep your cooking area clear.
  • Don't place items on, or close to heaters, lamps or other electrical equipment.
  • Don't store cylinders in your home as they are a serious hazard during a fire. If you have a medical need for cylinders they should be kept upright and outdoors where possible – never store cylinders in basements, under stairs or in cupboards with electric meters/equipment.
  • If you smoke, use a proper ashtray that won’t burn and put it on flat stable surface so that it can’t tip over easily. Don’t leave your lit cigarette unattended.
  • Put candles/tea lights in heat resistant holders that hold the candle/tea light firmly and make sure that it's placed on a flat stable, heat resistant surface. Keep candles/tea lights aware from anything that can catch fire, and never leave them unattended.
  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm and test it as part of your regular clearance sessions. 
  • Plan and practise how to escape from your home if there were a fire. Choose an escape route and keep it clear of possessions – in the event of a fire this will help you escape quickly or allow firefighters to reach you if you are unable to escape.
  • Make sure your possessions are stored on stable surfaces and do not stack items to a height that they become unstable – they could fall over blocking your escape.
  • Newspapers and post stored in bulk are highly combustible and will cause a fire to spread rapidly. Sort mail and newspapers on the day you receive them and recycle on a regular basis
  • In the event of a fire in your home, do not attempt to put it out yourself – leave your home straight away and call the fire brigade once you are safely outside. Do not stop on your way out to collect possessions and do not go back inside once you have escaped.
     

West Midlands Fire Service carry out free ‘Safe and Well visits' which check out the risks of fire in a home, but also look at health, social and lifestyle factors. To book a Safe and Well visit, contact West Midlands Fire Service.

Read more fire safety advice.

Other help

There are lots of other organisations out there who also support people who hoard:

 

If you know of anyone who hoards, or if you’d like help yourself, we are here to help so please contact us.

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