Couple's vision to help people break the hoarding habit

Directors Louise Wilkinson and Rob Begley of Hevingham, of Moving Forward Norfolk

Directors Louise Wilkinson and Rob Begley of Hevingham, who have launched Moving Forward Norfolk to help people with hoarding disorders. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Helping people break the hoarding habit is the goal of a Norfolk couple aiming to prevent further relapses through its services. 

Rob Begley, from Hevingham, started Moving Forward Norfolk after a two year pilot working with those with hoarding disorder or self-neglect. 

For more than 30 years the cleaning contractor tidied properties, but one day thought that approach was not enough when asked to clear a home belonging to a tenant with repeated hoarding history.

He said instead of just cleaning, he would work with the tenant to build positive habits and if any future support was needed for their physical and mental health.

The idea would be the basis of his Community Interest Company (CIC) Moving Forward Norfolk which he runs with his partner Louise Wilkinson.

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The directors said it was important to ensure individuals did not feel attacked, with many not knowing where to start to make changes. 

The cleaning, decluttering and hoarding consultant said: "What I see is past the clutter, I would see how they felt inside. 

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"It isn't about the cleaning, it's about supporting a person through the process. Support to teach them the ways and changes in ways and making positive decisions.

"We registered as a CIC in April this year and have already come to a point where we need to scale up as demand is outstripping supply. In short, we need to train more mentors, fast."

Councils and housing associations refer individuals to them who may require an intervention due to a safety risk or possible eviction due to self-neglect or hoarding.

The individual is then supported by a mentor, with the company offering 12-week programmes of mentoring and relapse prevention. 

Miss Wilkinson said: "There is always an underlying reason for someone to hoard, we have met a lady who hoarded to protect herself following many years of abuse, she put up a literal wall. Some hoard because of bereavement. There is always a reason." 

Mr Begley, as the only mentor, can support up to 32 people a year but wishes to increase the mentoring team to reach more people with hundreds of cases on refers books. 

He said: "Each one [council referrals] of them has a caseload. 

"There is definitely a need.

"The pandemic will have exacerbated the situation where people have been coping to the point they now aren't." 

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