Officers in East Devon are once again highlighting the issue of self-neglect and hoarding and focusing on the help and support on offer to people affected.
In January the council highlighted the story of a resident who said they had regained their life after EDDC, and other partners, stepped in to declutter their Seaton home after years of neglect had left the home filled with rubbish and without working heating.
Now the council is supporting National Hoarding Awareness Week which aims to raise the profile of hoarding, how to spot signs of the problem and importantly how to get help.
In East Devon, officers are called in to help deal with more than a dozen hoarder and self-neglect cases, in privately rented and owned homes, a year. But the figure could be much higher as often family, friends and neighbours may be unaware of the true difficulties those who experience hoarding issues can face. It is thought only 5% of cases come to the attention of statutory services.
Martin Prew, Technical Officer with EDDC’s Private Sector Housing, Environmental Health team said: “Hoarding may, on the face of it, seem like an issue of clutter and mess it is actually much more than that. The resident may be suffering from serious health issues and really need support but are ashamed to seek help. These homes often have much bigger problems such as a lack of working utilities, no cooking facilities, broken windows and collapsed floors. The hoarding has usually gone on for many years and there is no quick fix but there is help and ways to be relieved from the burden of hoarding.”
In East Devon officers across services are working to spot the signs of hoarding and to step in to help. The Council is also working closely with Jo Cooke from Hoarding Disorders UK, said: “ We recognise the need for a collaborative multi-agency approach and recent research has backed this up. Hoarding a complex condition and needs a person-centred trauma informed approach. Hoarding is the concern of not just housing, but mental health, the fire services and NHS amongst others.”
National Hoarding Awareness Week, which begins on 15th May, estimates up to 1.2 million people may be affected by hoarding in the UK with most hoarding paper, plastic bags, newspapers, containers and even animals.
If you or someone you know is struggling with hoarding and/or self-neglect, please contact your GP or EDDC’s environmental health's private sector team by emailing email@example.com or calling 01395 571572.
You can find out more by visiting: Hoarding Awareness Week - Social enterprise specialising in hoarding