Your Living Room encourages service user participation and welcomed Philip our first client who has agreed to become involved with Your Living Room as an ambassador and volunteer in May 2017.

Philip commenced his involvement at our centre in Layer-de-la-Haye by agreeing to volunteer within our recycling project and since June has begun to deliver presentations to professionals around Essex allowing them an insight in his life experiences in relation to hoarding.

Philip will be invited to attend our management meetings in an advisory capacity and has agreed to assist in our first user forum which will be taking place in 2017 to help address the needs of this key beneficiary group.

The references to ‘Harry’ throughout the following video is the name of the practitioner working and supporting Philip with his decluttering:

"The process of decluttering a hoarded household provided by Your Living Room is not a simplistic case of filling rubbish bags and ferrying larger items to the local household tip.

There are various values, influences and paths that can result in hoarding: So although the result is the same and we might share some facets, we each benefit from a solution tailored to the uniqueness of the situation we have created. Like many hoarders I have a developed altruistic sense of avoiding waste and not throwing away that has probably been misdirected over time resulting in my house being unusable: It is simply not practical to keep twelve bicycles in various states of repair nor about twenty computer monitors in one room - just in case one day I might need a spare.  

Despite my best intentions to declutter by my own efforts, allowing someone that is totally non-judgmental and without any criticism whatsoever to help start the process and then maintain the momentum has been so beneficial to my situation. Helping place those idle bikes with a dedicated charity that repairs and distributes them to those in greater need was the starting point. This allowed me to declutter and gain the reward of knowing that some good has finally resulted from the time and space that those hoarded items have consumed in my life.

Although relatives and well-meaning friends might seek to help with good intentions directed at the problem they see; there is a great difference in understanding and how to offer practical help that it paced to meet my needs – some things can be thrown away today yet other items take a little longer before they are ready to go. Outsiders consider this as just Hoarder- Indecision but it is not that simple from the point of view where multiple factors are assessed before an item stays or goes. Understanding that difference and the impact of unwelcomed forced encouragement on particular points means the difference between accepting help in decluttering and total rejection of any interference.

After about ten decluttering sessions and trips to the tip my house is still a work in progress. But the progress is positive, welcomed and developing with some of my own old motivation beginning to resurface; I was not always a hoarder and twenty years of stuff does not disappear overnight.

Although some things will be with me for a while longer I am beginning to consider what to tackle next, what to recycle and what items are simply sucking energy from my life. Today I gained some satisfaction seeing a pile of seventeen full bags of mixed recycling waste stacked up outside my house awaiting collection. Understanding that everything I bought into the house over the years for one reason or another might have had its purpose but now identifying and taking out the clutter will turn the house into a home once more."

- Philip (June 2017)