As the nation prepares for a new lockdown on Thursday, a Banbury Based Businesswoman who supported Clutterholics and Hoarders during the first lockdown from her shed at the end of her garden is urging anyone living with excessive clutter to get ask for support NOW.
Clare Baker, who is herself a former clutterholic and borderline hoarder, supported clutterholics and Hoarders virtually from her shed at the end of her garden during the first lockdown. As we all spend the next few days preparing for a second lockdown, she is concerned that Clutterholic and Hoarders won’t ask for help and will suffer in silence – again – and is urging them to just reach out and ask for support NOW.
‘I saw more than double the number of people contacting me for support during the first lockdown’ says Clare, ‘but I know that was only the tip of the iceberg. I’m really concerned that as we prepare for a second lockdown, those who live with excessive clutter won’t ask for help because of the fear and shame that they feel about their clutter and consequently, for those who haven’t yet asked for help during this pandemic, their mental health will deteriorate further’.
Clare is urging anyone living with excessive Clutter to either contact her, their GP or their Local Council to ask for support during this second wave.
‘I’ve been helping hoarders and clutterholics for 20 years. Anxiety, depression, isolation and fear are something many of them live with on a day-to-day basis when we’re not in a pandemic.’
‘During the first wave I had enquiries from Social Prescribers, the Fire Service, Social Works, Housing Associations – a whole range of services concerned about residents that they became aware of who were living with excessive clutter. They all wanted to know what support I could provided given that the traditional form of help – going into people’s homes – wasn’t possible or practical. Thankfully I’ve been supporting clutterholics and hoarders virtually for years, so I was able to provide the help and support they needed quickly and easily.’
‘Given what happened during the first lockdown, the most important thing to do for anyone living with excessive clutter is to NOT try to help them physically clear their clutter’ says Clare.
‘I know that may sound crazy, but their mental health is much more important during Lockdown. If someone is feeling lonely, isolated, depressed and anxious because they’re locked down in their home surrounded by their overwhelming clutter, they’re not mentally in a place where they’re going to be able to make any decisions about their clutter.’
‘The priority during this second lockdown is to make sure they know they’re not alone and provide regular, meaningful support that doesn’t involve trying to get them to clear their clutter’.
At the beginning of the first lockdown Clare set up her Online Social Gatherings to provide that meaningful support to anyone who was living with Excessive Clutter. They started meeting every Monday via zoom.
‘We had people join from all round the world – UK, America, Canada, Europe’ says Clare ‘and they all found comfort from connecting with other people who understood what it was REALLY like to live with a clutter challenge during lockdown. We operate on a circle of trust basis so that people can be as open and honest as possible, and get the support and compassion they don’t necessarily get from friends and family who didn’t understand what it’s like to live with excessive clutter day after day and why they struggle with letting go.’
Clare has continued her online Social Gatherings throughout the summer, and will be continuing them indefinitely.
‘If my online Social Gatherings provide a safe place for clutterholics and hoarders to come once a week for a couple of hours and share their experiences and feelings during lockdown which helps them feel supported and understood, then I consider that a success. They don’t have to be actively trying to clear their clutter. In fact I actively try to convince them NOT to try to clear their clutter when they first join my online Social Gatherings’.
‘The great thing about my online Social Gatherings is that we’re not limited by the rule of 6, so I can help literally dozens of clutterholics and hoarders who may be just down the road or in another country all at the same time. The only thing we need to have in common is that we’re living with excessive clutter in Lockdown.’
For anyone who has or knows someone with a clutter challenge, Clare has 3 top tips to help them get through this new Lockdown.
- Don’t try to clear any clutter during lockdown. Just meet and connect with others who are in a similar situation so that we can manage some of that anxiety and isolation that clutter causes.
- Let a friend, family member, GP, Social Worker or Housing Association know that you are living in Lockdown with excessive clutter, and ask them to help you join my online Social Gatherings so that you have the emotional support you need to get through this second lockdown.
- If you are ready to start working on some of your physical clutter, start with paperwork clutter. ‘All Clutterholics have paperwork Clutter’ says Clare. ‘It’s a great place to start during lockdown because we know that kerbside recycling will continue to be collected, so you’ll be able to get it out of your home without being dependent on charity shops being open.