Bucks Hoarding Support Group has been able to continue providing services to its members during recent weeks, using conference call facilities to keep members connected.
As a result of the COVID-19 restrictions the group was unable to provide its usual group meetings at Haddenham Fire Station, so moved to fortnightly telephone sessions in order to continue its support for all those affected by hoarding issues, and reduce social isolation.
Hoarders are people who are unable to dispose of excess or unused belongings, to the point where they are storing so many items that their living space becomes cramped. Estimates suggest that more than a million people in the UK may have hoarding issues.
There are many risks associated with hoarding, including those related to fire safety.
Karen Lock, from Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s Community Safety Team, said: “High levels of clutter make it much easier for a fire to start and create a greater risk of fire spreading, increasing the risk of injury and death. It can also make it very difficult to escape, and lead to difficulties for firefighters tackling the blaze.
“In response to the COVID-19 restrictions we felt it important to be able to continue supporting our members during this difficult time, so we set up a conference call facility which allows us to link the group together, in a single phone call, while keeping personal numbers hidden. This has meant members have been able to continue to discuss their issues together, among those who are experiencing similar problems, and obtain information and opportunities, where appropriate, to support change where desired.
“Getting people together in this way continues to provide a space for them to experience a unique emotional identification with each other and their issues. It also enhances mutual group togetherness, support and friendship, which can reduce the terrible social isolation that can impact upon people with these issues, and help people move forward and gain control over their lives.
“In these times of tremendous uncertainty, this is a greatly effective way to provide continuation of this support.” Now the group is planning to provide support to people who live further afield and who may not previously have been able to get to meetings due to distance.
The group’s upcoming telephone link meetings are taking place:
Thursday 14 May 2020 5pm to 6pm
Thursday 28 May 2020 5pm to 6pm
Thursday 11 June 2020 5pm to 6pm
Thursday 25 June 2020 5pm to 6pm
Anyone who has issues with hoarding and is interested in joining the telephone meetings is asked to contact Elaine Hassall at email@example.com.