WHAT IS 'GOOD HELP'?
Our approach to ‘Good Help’
We help people affected by mess, clutter or issues relating to hoarding disorder. This problem impacts as many as one in twenty people.
Our approach is person-centred - the client is always in control and making their own decisions. Our support is practical and semi-therapeutic. We understand that unless the emotional issues at the heart of their problem are acknowledged, the problem will all too likely recur.
We often have initial meetings away from the home to build trust. We invite clients to attend the free monthly support group we run which enables them to chare experience and benefit from peer support. In this way we help to restore confidence and self-esteem.
Empowerment is at the heart of what we do. Supporting someone with hoarding problems takes a long time. We work one-to-one in the home for a few hours a week over many months. Gradually, small changes build up to create large, sustainable benefits.
Our person-centred approach is entrenched in the DNA of our social enterprise. We provide training for social workers, landlords and councils among others. Our involvement with clients is long-term and a commitment we embrace as an organisation.
The impact of our ‘Good Help’
Hoarding is a hidden problem. Social isolation is a common factor; a person becomes ashamed of their home and slowly excludes friends and family. A vicious circle develops as the person seeks to feel better by acquiring more things which add to the problem.
We have helped people who had hoarded all areas of their home, spending all day and night on one chair with no access to bathroom or kitchen. At its most severe, hoarding is a matter of life and death and is a factor in a significant proportion of domestic fires.
We offer an opportunity to de-stigmatise the problem and deliver a social resolution based on practical help and peer-to-peer support.
Our service has prevented a number of clients suffering an enforced clearance of their home. This blunt approach always fails, leaving clients distraught, depressed and bound to re-hoard as they seek refuge in the behaviours which made them feel secure, i.e. hoarding.
Ultimately our involvement can prevent homelessness and many kinds of health problems. Social isolation leads to anxiety and depression, lack of exercise and good nutrition and an increased reliance on Social Care and the NHS.
On an individual level our approach, along with the support group, helps break down barriers, improving socialisation and confidence as well as dealing with the clutter thereby making homes safer.
Before our organisation was founded, this group of people had no targeted support and no chance of person-centred help with decluttering.
Our training for professionals has helped increase awareness of the problem of hoarding and clutter. On many occasions we have liaised with family, friends and neighbours to increase and improve the support a person receives. We also refer on to other agencies and do all we can to ensure the best help in any given circumstance.
Our inspiration for ‘Good Help’
Unquestionably our success is born of what we’ve learnt from our clients. Ours is a practical discipline, it requires rolled-up sleeves and big ears. It’s as much about listening as filling bags.
The service is evolving from the people we support. We are flexible and respond to each client as individuals while using our experience to guide the complicated process of bringing normality back to a home that might be piled to the ceiling with decades worth of clutter.
Without our help, many clients have no support at all. Others might be forced into an enforced clearance. This leads to severe depression, suicidal thoughts and a quick re-building of the hoard in order to regain the sense of safety it represented.
Our greatest enabler is the group of people we work with, especially those who attend the support group. We have also benefited from positive feedback from professionals including social workers and councils taking a chance on us when we launched our service and helping us to build a credible reputation across Essex. Our challenges are mainly around infrastructure, particularly expanding to keep up with demand as we need to accelerate our accessibility for those in desperate need.
Our vision for ‘Good Help’
Our intention is to expand our service through recruitment of emotionally intelligent staff enabling us to work with more people at any given time. Alongside this we will develop support groups in other areas of Essex, building on the success so far to destigmatise this hidden problem. Longer-term we envisage an opportunity to franchise our service model, expanding into other counties.
Very little is understood about the problem of hoarding. Many people still think it’s a lifestyle choice and that sufferers are just lazy. The reality is that hoarders are very often high achieving individuals, well educated, travelled and intelligent. They are not lazy - they have an emotional block which has led to hoarding but that can be dealt with to help them live a safe and happy life.
Our ambitions for growth are based in our passionate belief that we have developed the best possible to way to help people who have hoarding disorder.
Our mission is to help as many people as possible, raise awareness to professionals and the community and share our knowledge and experiences through our hoarding awareness training. To achieve these aims we require additional trained staff and investment to upscale our service