Cases of hoarding and self-neglecting in Norwich double in space of year

City Hall in Norwich. Photo: Nick Butcher.

City Hall in Norwich. Photo: Nick Butcher. - Credit: EDP pics © 2007

The number of people in Norwich hoarding and self-neglecting has doubled over the course of a year, council leaders have revealed.

Norwich City Council's environmental health officers have dealt with 16 cases of hoarding this year - where someone acquires an excessive number of items and stores them in a chaotic manner.

It is often a symptom of underlying mental health issues.

A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council said: 'So far this year our environmental health officers have had a caseload of 16, compared with seven the previous year. and we estimate there are around 50 cases in the city that we are dealing with as a council.

'We work very closely with individuals to address these issues and this often includes working in partnership with relevant support agencies.' Gail Harris, the city council's cabinet member for housing and wellbeing, added around half the cases handled by City Hall's antisocial behaviour and tenancy enforcement team, also involved people with mental health issues, whether as victim, witness or perpetrator.

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And she said last year's rough sleeper count showed an increase in people having to sleep rough because they had been excluded from services because their needs were too high and complex.

She said: 'It is difficult to ascertain the exact cause of this increase and therefore ascribe it to specific cuts, as there are wider drivers of mental health issues, including economic uncertainty, socio-economic inequality and changes to substance misuse patterns, such as legal highs.

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'It may also be that wider reductions in services that could have played a preventative role, such as legal aid for debt and benefits issues, will have played as significant a role as reductions in clinical services.

'However, we are aware that in the past, specialist services such as mental health rough sleeper teams would have been able to assess individuals and support them into appropriate services in a timely fashion.

'The absence of such provision certainly seems to coincide with the advent of a more crisis-driven response to needs.'

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health services, was placed in special measures in February.

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