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Most people will have had a collection at some point during their lives, whether it’s collecting stickers, postcards or albums.

But while focusing on one collection is a harmless pastime, excessive collecting, in the form of hoarding, can be a real problem, potentially affecting a person’s health and wellbeing. Across the country it’s thought that around 2% of the population, about 1 million people, has an issue with hoarding.

Every year our neighbourhood coaches work with dozens of customers who have hoarding tendencies. Neighbourhood coach Rhiannon* has been working with one customer over the past couple of years to help them address their issue.

“Working with people with hoarding tendencies is extremely challenging,” she said. “Some people do not think there is a problem and often those people who do realise they have a problem are too embarrassed talk about it and want it to remain a secret. From our point of view, the important thing to remember is that situations like these take time.

“With one of my customers they had lots of items that were blocking access to their home. I had spoken to them on several occasions about removing them, but all of these conversations had happened on her doorstep. I knew it would take a long time to build a relationship with them and earn their trust, but I persevered and eventually they invited me into their home.

“This was a big step forward for both of us. When speaking to them I explained our concerns about the items blocking the entrance to their flat and that it was a fire risk to their neighbours as well as themselves. I’ve had to speak with them a few times but on my last visit I was really pleased to see the area had been cleared.

“There is still a long way to go but this is a massive step forward for someone who had not previously engaged with us. Having built a relationship with them I know that they’d like to move to be closer to their family and so I will continue to visit and encourage them over the weeks and months ahead. Without our coaching approach, which allows me to keep visiting and building a relationship I think this is an issue that could have gone on for a very long time.”

For more information about hoarding watch the video below, produced by Raven Housing Trust.

The following organisations offer help and advice on hoarding disorders:
Hoarding UK
Help for Hoarders

*Name changed to protect identity of our customer.

Writing about all things housing related for more than 10 years.

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