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It’s National Hoarding Awareness Week 2023!

It’s National Hoarding Awareness Week 2023!

Hoarding awareness week runs Monday 15 to Friday 19 May 2023.

This is the ninth year of the week-long national campaign to raise awareness of hoarding, as well as the support mechanisms available to those displaying hoarding behaviour and their family members and friends.

Did you know that for the past four years, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service has been running a Hoarding Support Group?

Accessible on the phone, this group is free, runs fortnightly, and is open to anyone who is experiencing hoarding issues – either themselves or as a family member, friend, parent or carer of someone showing signs of the behaviour.

What is hoarding?

Hoarding disorder is where someone is unable to dispose, discard or part with excess possessions or unused belongings. Often starting early in life, hoarding usually becomes visible later, commonly at crisis point when living conditions have become cramped, and may even have reached a level at which they become unsafe for the individual.

Hoarding Support Groups are not new and have been proven to successfully help those affected by hoarding behaviour, both in knowing they are not alone and in providing access to available support.

Why are we supporting National Hoarding Awareness Week?

Hoarding is highly prevalent, with approximately two to five per cent of the population (that is potentially over 1.2 million people in the UK alone) showing signs of the disorder.

Karen Lock, our Hoarding Support Officer, said:

“When severe, hoarding is associated with substantial functional disability and represents a great burden for the sufferers, their families and society. It carries with it the risk of fire as some people with hoarding issues may partially or entirely fill rooms from floor to ceiling, leaving themselves with reduced or minimum space in which to live.

“This retention of property presents a real fire risk, and makes it far harder for firefighters to be able to tackle any blaze.”

Evidence from across the country shows that:

  • In 90 per cent of all residential fires the fire itself is contained to the room where it started. However, that figure drops to 40 per cent where there is hoarding, as this additional material fuels the fire and makes it spread more quickly.
  • When there is a fire in a person’s home who has these issues, there can be a far greater risk that the individual and/or family members will find it difficult or impossible to escape.
  • Common materials kept by those with hoarding issues may include newspapers, magazines, books and soft furnishings – all of which are highly combustible.
  • The presence of vast amounts of hoarded material creates a risk to firefighters, both in getting to the fire and through increased heat and smoke.

The Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Hoarding Support Group

The BFRS facilitated group is the first, person-centred, Hoarding Support Group in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes which runs regularly and continuously. It does not run for a limited number of sessions, and its aim is to bring people together who have experienced or are experiencing hoarding issues.

Karen added:

“By its very nature, hoarding is generally a hidden problem. It can be associated with obsessive compulsive disorder, trauma, depression, autism, or a bereavement or loss of some kind.

“It’s particularly important to make sure that people with hoarding issues don’t feel isolated and supporting one another can be a key step in helping to address this debilitating condition. Spending an hour with us at the support group can help those with hoarding tendencies.

“Previous participants of our sessions have found that the sessions have helped them to address and even counter the negative feelings being experienced. This includes being overwhelmed by the physical problems arising with excessive clutter, as well as social isolation, depression and anxiety which tend to go with it.”

Find out more:

More information about our Hoarding Support Group can be found at: Hoarding Support Group.

If you would like to speak to someone, Karen Lock, our Hoarding Support facilitator, can be contacted by email klock@bucksfire.gov.uk, or by phone: 07803 182549. If calling, please leave a message on Karen’s answerphone with your name, contact number and enquiry, and she will get back to you as soon as possible.

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