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Helping the homeless helps hoarders overcome their illness

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Newbury-based charity marks one year anniversary by offering support to Loose Ends

A Newbury organisation tackling hoarding disorders is helping people overcome their ordeals by encouraging them to donate items no longer needed to help others in their community, such as Newbury-based homeless charity, Loose Ends.

Hoarding Disorders UK was founded by West Berkshire residents Jo Cooke and Amanda Peet, after months of planning and a desire to help people turn their lives around, following the recognition of hoarding disorder as a mental illness in 2013.

Ms Cooke said: “People with hoarding conditions don’t want to part with their things, so we encourage them to help think of those who are in need of such items.

“For one hoarder, who lost her husband last April, I came out of her home with at least 30 coats, some brand new shoes, 30 plastic food containers and nine flasks, bum bags, airline cushions and blankets.

“That’s what Loose Ends needs, flasks to put hot drinks in, containers to hand out food.”

The organisation also offers hands-on support to individuals and their families, and provides training to partner organisations which can declutter and clean homes in more serious cases.

It is estimated that between two and five per cent of the UK population is living with a hoarding disorder.

This equates to 3,500 people in West Berkshire alone, and more than 17,000 across Berkshire.

Ms Peet added: “Before the diagnosis of hoarding as a mental illness, many thought it was a lifestyle choice or that it was an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

“It was thought that there was no ‘cure’, but with the right treatment and support hoarders can come out of the other end.”

Hoarding Disorders UK hosts support meetings at Broadway House on the last Thursday of each month, from 7pm to 9pm, for sufferers of hoarding disorders and those close to them.

“It is such a privilege to be able to go into someone’s home and help them to get back on track,” said Ms Cooke.

“The reaction has been fabulous.

“We have been able to help a number of people and their families and have presented to local organisations, many of which involve local residents.

“We have had a terrific year and had no idea that we would have taken off with such gusto.”

The pair are now looking to expand their work into other counties.

For more information, visit www.hoardingdisordersuk.org, www.facebook.com/hoardingdisordersuk or follow @HoarderDisorder on Twitter.

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