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South Manchester 'tidy home' project offers to declutter homes and give people a new lease of life

  • Service helps tenants with hoarding disorder to declutter their homes
  • Gives people new lease of life, say organisers
  • Many people living in substandard conditions because of the disorder

A housing scheme in Didsbury is offering free support to tenants with hoarding disorders, giving a new lease of life to those living in clutter.

Lynsey Grundy, a hoarding and tenancy specialist, is the founder of Tidy Homes, Tidy Minds, which aims to improve the lives of those people suffering from hoarding disorder.

Lynsey set up the project following the introduction of the bedroom tax when she would often visit tenants.

Tidy Homes Tidy Minds, Southway Housing Trust, hoarding disorder
Lynsey Grundy

It was then that she discovered several tenants displayed hoarding behaviour, were living in terrible conditions but not receiving any support.

By offering one-to-one assessments and follow-up sessions in which people gradually rid themselves of the clutter that fills their homes, this improves the living situation of people often living in miserable and potentially unsafe conditions.

Lynsey said: “Hoarding disorder can often be really psychological.

“It’s an extremely debilitating condition, which is often based on trauma and there’s often a lot of embarrassment behind it.”

Tidy Homes Tidy Minds, Southway Housing Trust, hoarding disorder
One of the homes suffering from hoarding which the project decluttered

She said some tenants had been living in horrific conditions, with one man without toilet facilities in his home for three years and using a bag for his own waste.

“This specific gentleman was also an insulin-dependent diabetic, we found he’d been leaving his insulin outside on the windowsill, so we were forced to intervene for his own safety,” said Lynsey.

“As you can see, the work we do not only improves lives, but can also save lives!”

Hoarding disorder was added to the DSM -V as a classified disorder in 2013. It was previously categorised under OCD-related disorders.

In 2018, hoarding disorder was also recognised by the World Health Organisation as a mental health condition.

Lynsey’s work will contribute to psychological research on hoarding disorder. There are currently limited statistics on the condition and better understanding of the condition will enable better help for sufferers in the future.

Gill Lambert sought help from Tidy Homes, Tidy Minds privately after realising she wanted help with her home.

“This has opened my life up, it allowed me to look at something and think – I’m proud of this!,” she said.

Gill found help for decluttering her home following the death of her husband.

She said:  “We were both busy people, and I have no interest whatsoever in cleaning or tidying. I found it really easy to get help, I simply typed in ‘de clutter Manchester.”

Gill’s home is now a space where she can both live and entertain.

“I now have parties! I have Gin parties and I recently hosted a trivial pursuit party; I even hosted an anti-Valentine’s party which involved lots of wine!,” she said.

Clearing Gill’s home took 18 months and involved many sessions in which the furniture was removed from her home and donated to charity.

“I can now also cook for my neighbour. He isn’t able to cook for himself; it brings me great gratification,” she said.

Gill said she would recommend or anyone who was struggling with hoarding tendencies to seek help “Do not hesitate, it will change your life!”

Tidy Homes Tidy Minds, Southway Housing Trust, hoarding disorder
A room taken over by hoarding

Tidy Homes, Tidy Minds is a service provided by Southway Housing Trust.

Lynsey said: “Our aftercare following our service includes a confidential support group where in which people who have accessed help from us can gather and talk to each other and get support from others.”

During the current pandemic, Southway Housing Trust - which runs the tidy homes prjoect - is offering extensive support to tenants.

“It’s concerning to think that there are others out there who live in clutter who have to stay at home during this time, as it can often pose as a danger, especially to the elderly,” said Lynsey.

If you live in Greater Manchester and are or know of anyone who has hoarding tendencies that may need support, you can contact Tidy Homes, Tidy Minds through their Facebook page @tidyhomestidyminds.

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