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Through our ‘User’ consultation in 2017 Your Living Room CIC identified a gap in service provision regarding the need of a ‘User-led’ support group for clients with a hoarding disorder or severe clutter issues.

The initial pilot project was funded by the Anglian Community Trust and provided a FREE support service for clients and people in need to access support from ‘like-minded individuals.

The ‘pilot’ was launched on the 4th September 2017 and has since empowered clients and non-clients alike that reside in the Tendring and Colchester area. The forum has been facilitated by Your Living Room Practitioners, therapist and BACP counsellors, providing a variety of specialist support.

This unique user-led group has:

•             Enabled clients to help themselves

•             Provided a safe environment to share their experiences with their peers

•             Discuss and find solutions in a respectful and supportive approach.

There is currently no other comparable service in Essex set up to support clients with ongoing support with specific needs such as hoarding disorder or severe clutter issues. This group provides encouragement to explore the potential underlying reasons for their behaviours, helping them identify and analyse the possibilities of why they have gone down this path. The user led group has delivered multiple benefits including resulting in 600 hours of support in the first year to a group age ranging from 30 years to 75 years.

Following the success of the ‘Pilot’ ACT have graciously awarded us continuous funding for a second year until December 2019. This enables us to further extend the monthly meetings at Layer, held on the first Monday of every month between 5-7pm.

The group was founded with the active involvement of our first client/ambassador, Philip.

‘Philip’ is a long-term hoarder (approx. 20 years) and became a client/volunteer within our organisation in April 2017.   Please see ‘Philips’ story on our Testimonial page - video link of Philip at a recent presentation on our website:

“There is a shame attached to the mess and clutter meaning the opportunities to talk about it are few and far between. A vicious circle develops as the negative feelings are briefly assuaged with a new acquisition which in turn adds to the clutter thus leading to guilt and depression. Having observed this in action, it is one of the many reasons for the user-led forums to be used as a tool to break this insidious pattern of behaviour.

Despite this issue being a common problem affecting as many as one in 20 people, those living in a hoarded home often feel they are unique and keep the reality hidden. Our user-led forums are designed to bring this neglected group together to talk, to compare notes, to share experience and to help shed light on each other’s predicament. We feel that support forums will be more effective being facilitated by the decluttering specialists that are working with their clients as they will have experienced the clients actual living environment.”

The Outcomes:

•             Increased confidence

•             Unlocking reasons / triggers

•             Developing understanding

•             Finding ways to build towards sustainable solutions

•             Improved socialisation

•             Becoming part of a ‘buddy’ peer network

We consider this forum to be an integral part of our approach to dealing with hoarding. By providing a supportive, non-judgemental, client led forum we are taking the decluttering process into a new arena – one which builds on the therapeutic side of the service to encourage participants, through sharing, to gain a deeper insight and ultimately to develop their own bespoke pathway to a happy, clutter-free future.

This service addresses the hidden need that drives people into isolation. 85% of the group are long term hoarders. (10 years plus) This group has supported each other through and beyond their decluttering process by:

• Helping the clients help themselves

• Share experiences with their peers

• Prevent homelessness with a potential pathway into rough sleeping

• Allow people to remove the label of shame that they feel tied to

• Engage people that have not been brave enough to admit their crisis

• Engage people that are unable to seek help or know where to go

• Discuss and find solutions

The benefits of this approach are not restricted to the clients. By listening to what those taking part have to say, our declutterers will develop their knowledge as practitioners, becoming more effective in their roles with this insight.

The wider community (family/friends/guardians) benefit as this complex issue and is often very challenging for people within immediate contact of the person.They need support in how to deal with the long-term needs and how they can support the positive progression into a safer organised environment. Family members have on occasion attended the group; however, a separate group would allow the e.g. family member to be honest and open about their feeling and how the situation is impacting on their life.

The following group feedback identifies the positive outcomes achieved through an organically created User Led Support Group:

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We will eventually extend our support groups, to give a broader range of views, medical/mental health conditions and experiences, not only from different people who exhibit hoarding behaviours but also family members.

The future:

Due to the 100% positive feedback, the outcomes from the group and a successful application made to the Tudor Trust, Your Living Room has been awarded an additional two years funding to set up two new support groups in Manningtree and Chelmsford in Essex for 2019.

We look to increasing match funding through the sales from our concession at the Manningtree Emporium with will help to maintain the support service in Manningtree.



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The revenue gained through our concession at the Manningtree Emporium will help to maintain the sustainability of the support service in Manningtree.

The Manningtree support group will be based in Foundry Court, Colchester Road and will commence on the 11th March 2019. Further information and updates will be posted on our Facebook page.

From Monday 1st July, our third user-led support group will be launched in Chelmsford for people displaying hoarding tendencies or severe clutter issues.

Time & Location: 10.30am - 13:00pm at Moulsham Mill.

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