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Sunday, 29 July 2018

Riding for your life

Today's Prudential Ride London - Surrey 19, 46 and 100 and Prudential Ride London - Surrey Classic cycling events, passed through my home town - Walton-on-Thames in Surrey.

The rain didn't put off supporters like me, braving the conditions to cheer, clap and cowbell the amateur cyclists on their way in the morning.  It was touching to see families holding up signs to the competitors saying things like “Hello Mummy!”

I found it deeply moving and very humbling meeting competitors who'd had to stop - they were wet, dirty and oily and had been forced to dismount to make repairs - all were absolutely driven to get going as soon as possible, and keep going to raise money for their chosen charity. 

I was told that the rain had washed the dirt away from the road, but left tiny flints behind, which is what caused countless punctures.  One unlucky chap who was walking his bike had apparently repaired two punctures but sadly the third one had beaten him - presumably he’d run out of spares!

I was so impressed by kind members of the public who came to their rescue; many turned out to be keen cyclists themselves, so turned up with special pumps, inner tubes, tyre levers, etc.  Thank you 

A special thank you should go to the steward outside St Mary’s church, who had just run out of a supply of inner tubes that he was giving away for free.  He also generously donated part of his own bike to a chap whose wheel was in danger of coming off – even though he was going to have to cycle home himself.  

One cyclist who stopped even donated her own bicycle pump to help another lady (who'd come all the way from South Wales and was cycling for Bowel Cancer UK) whose pump had broken. 

I later discovered that the lady from Wales managed to complete the race in a time of 7hrs 14minutes and 49 seconds.  Good on ya Jules!

As there's Bowel Cancer in my family, I shall definitely be donating to the charity - and will keep my fingers crossed that I'll never need to call upon their services....

I was amazed by the vast number of different charities that riders were raising money for,.  It included medical conditions and charities that I'd never heard of, including The Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Association (PSPA), which helps people affected by a neurological condition caused by the premature loss of nerve cells in certain parts of the brain  (it's a bit like Parkinson's Disease).

One thing really puzzled me - why was the cycle shop in Walton closed?  So many competitors would have greatly benefited from it being open so they could purchase bits and pieces to help them get to the finishing line.

To those affected by the route who complain about the inconvenience of being constrained by and contained within a the route of the race for a few hours one day a year, I would like to say three things:
  • Perhaps you might like to try cycling up (and down) hills or in the rain one day, so you have a better sense of what it feels like for these brave athletes - it's not easy, it's not something taken on lightly.  
  • Hopefully you'll never need help, support or information from any of the charities these riders raise money for. Without their fund raising efforts, these charities may not exist, research may not be carried out, and lives may be altered for ever - or lost...
  • Would you rather feel cut off from freedom for a few hours, or permanently…?

UPDATE - 31st July 2018: End of a life.... 
I was saddened to discover today of the sudden death of one of the 26,720 cyclists in Sunday's Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 event.  

Nigel Buchan-Swanson, from Chichester, had a cardiac arrest in Ockley Road about 56 miles into the ride; he was 69 and leaves behind a wife, three children and six grandchildren. 

He had been raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Monday, 4 June 2018

UK Landlord Magazine - May 2018 - Why hoarding matters

The May 2018 issue of UK Landlord Magazine (published by The National Landlords Association - NLA) includes an interview with Cherry Rudge of Rainbow Red about how landlords should tread carefully when faced with problematic amounts of stuff caused by hoarding behaviours.   

The article tied in with Hoarding Awareness Week, and suggests approaches landlords should take if they discover tenants who exhibit hoarding behaviours that affect:

  1. the safety of people living in the property (or that of neighbours and others in the community)
  2. the functionality of the home
  3. the tenant's ability to abide by their tenancy agreements

The article recommends landlords consider the S.M.I.L.E. acronym, as an empathetic person-centred approach is proven to be far more effective than putting a vulnerable person (who may be self-neglecting) through the trauma of forced clear-out or eviction proceedings.
  • Safety first 
  • Mental health and well-being 
  • Imagine how you’d want to be treated if the tables were turned
  • Levels on the Clutter Image Rating Scale (CIR) 
  • Emotions, empathy and empowerment

Cherry - who is the daughter of a hoarder - was invited to contribute to the magazine, after attending two days of NLA training - a Foundation course and a Safer Homes.

To read the article, click here.

Click here to return to Rainbow Red's website

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Is clutter affecting your health or wellbeing, or both? Then fill in this form and take it to your GP

Feeling unwell, overwhelmed or at the end of our tether because of clutter, disorganisation or hoarding is a much more common, debilitating and potentially life-changing problem than you might think. 

Chronic Disorganisation 
Chores that some people find easy can be a nightmare for others - like filing paperwork, time-keeping, meal-planning, money management or quickly finding things that have been put away in that safe place - so safe you can't remember where it is! 

Juggling a busy lifestyle or having to cope with expected or unexpected life events doesn't help, and add to that an existing health condition - or one that you may not even know you have - and it can become overwhelming and a recipe for disaster.

We regularly hear of people who feel so anxious or embarrassed about their chronically disorganised homes that they won't allow people in - even when they have no heating, hot water or electricity, and are in desperate need of help and support from trades people such as plumbers, electricians or heating engineers.

It can affect a person's health, their relationships and their ability to function normally - in their home, in their personal life and sometimes at work too.

Hoarding behaviours
And then there's the more extreme end of the clutter spectrum - hoarding behaviours - which involves three main problems:
  • Excessive and compulsive acquisition of items - some of which may appear to be useless or of limited value to many people
  • Extreme difficulty letting them go 
  • Having so many possessions that it prevents or precludes the use of living spaces for what they were designed for

By 2019 the NHS and NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which is sponsored by the Department of Health) are likely to have added Hoarding Disorder to their list of diagnosable mental health disorders, although only specialists will be able to diagnose it.  

It's estimated that between 2%-6% of the population exhibit hoarding behaviour.  And in England* The Care Act 2014 classifies hoarding as potentially being self-neglect. Which means GPs and agencies coming into contact with hoarders should report patients exhibiting hoarding behaviours who are self-neglecting to the local authority, so that it can be investigated by the local Safeguarding team.

*There may be slightly different arrangements for Scotland and Wales

Concerned relatives, friends & neighbours
It's often concern over a loved one, friend or neighbour who exhibits these behaviours that causes heartache or health problems for the relatives or friends who are at their wits end to know how to help them change.  

Especially as excessive amounts of clutter creates high safety risks, not only for the people living in a property, but also neighbours and public safety services such as the Fire & Rescue Service (FRS) who get called out in the event of an emergency.  

When someone's safety, health or wellbeing is affected, it's time to take action.
The ice-breaker form helps people overcome the awkwardness or embarrassment of not knowing where to start the conversation about health problems related to extreme clutter, hoarding and disorganisation.   

It's important to note that GPs assess and treat patients all the time for conditions which can make organising difficult, such as:

Click here to download a list of examples of some of the medical conditions and other contributory factors that may be encountered when working with people who have clutter, chronic disorganisation or hoarding issues.

So how do you ask for help using the Ice-Breaker form? 
The idea is that people download the ice-breaker formtick the relevant boxes and present it to their GP, or other medical professional. 

The Ice-Breaker form can be downloaded from these websites
We're delighted that our friends at the following organisations have kindly endorsed the use of the form, which can be downloaded from their websites:
  • Hoarding UK - the UK charity for people affected by hoarding, and organiser of the UK's first National Hoarding Conference in May 2018
  • Help for Hoarders - a website for compulsive hoarders and their families 
  • Clouds End CIC - the UK's first social enterprise for helping hoarders, founded by hoarding campaigner Heather Matuozzo, who was a consultant to the BBC for their 2012 and 2013 documentaries, “Britain’s Biggest Hoarders” (the 2012 documentary won the MIND Media award).
  • Hoarding Disorders UK CIC - a Berkshire-based Community Interest Company co-founded by Jo Cooke, author of the insightful and compassionate go-to book "Understanding Hoarding" that has deservedly received numerous 5* reviews on Amazon.
  • Life-Pod Clutter Management CIC - a Scottish social enterprise founded by pioneering chronic disorganisation and hoarding behaviour specialist and trainer Linda Fay - organiser of the International Hoarding, Health & Housing Conference in Edinburgh in October 2018
  • Hoarding Awareness Week - the annual event (originally started by the Chief Fire Officers Association in 2014) to raise awareness of hoarding and reduce the stigmas associated with it.
The ice-breaker can be used to start a conversation about yourself or someone you're worried about if your health has been affected, and includes tick-box statements like:
   It’s hard for me/them to talk about this
   I/they feel alone and need support
   Other people don’t seem to understand
I/they feel distressed, and/or indecisive about what to do to make things better
I’ve/They’ve become secretive/ withdrawn about this situation
   My/their self-confidence/self-esteem is very low
   I/they feel very uncomfortable about/reluctant to change
   It can be hard for me/them to live normally/work/study/travel/pay bills/make or keep friendships and relationships
   I/they have been notified by the Local Authority/my Landlord/other agency that action will be taken if I/they don’t do something soon (explain which agency – eg. bank, landlord, Environmental Health, Family Liaison, boss, etc)
   Family/friends/neighbours have taken (or have threatened to take) matters into their own hands
   I/they don’t feel I/they have anyone to talk to who would actively listen empathetically and/or non-judgementally to my/their concerns
   I feel out of my depth with my knowledge of how to help and/or support my relative/ friend/colleague, or myself 

And asks the Medical Professional to "Please talk me through the types of help and support that could empower me to feel better".

The form also includes an extract from the Clutter Image Rating Scale on the back, as the FRS like to know whenever Level 5 or above is reached, so they can visit and do a Safe & Well visit (also known as a Home Fire Safety visit) and discuss the risks with the resident, advise on actions that can be taken to make things safer, including emergency evacuation plans and perhaps fitting free smoke detectors.

What can the GP do to help?
Helping people whose health has been affected by chronic disorgansiation and/or hoarding is rarely a quick fix.  

Recently we heard about a case where someone (who exhibited hoarding behaviours and had all sorts of health problems due to their complex situation) had completed the ice-breaker and ticked every single box except one.

The GP used the ticked responses in the questionnaire to ask further questions about the patient's symptoms and difficulties, which gave him a better understanding of the problems the patient was facing - which included potentially being evicted.

The GP referred the patient for blood tests; prescribed treatment for various health problems; referred them for counselling for mental health problems (including anxiety and depression), and an assessment for Autism and ADHD.  And because the patient was self-neglecting they were also referred to the local Adult Safeguarding Board.  

A multi-agency team was formed, which enabled the patient to get advocacy help and support, and lead to intervention from specialist Professional Hoarding Practitioners.  

The Professional Hoarding Practitioners used an holistic and practical person-centered approach to empower the patient/client to make decisions which resulted in the number of possessions gradually being reduced, and the safety risks associated with the cluttered property being significantly reduced too - to the extent that the eviction was cancelled.  

The patient continues to have therapy and work with the multi-agency team which is supporting them. As a result, the patient's anxiety levels have reduced, their health has improved and they are now attending a hoarding support group.

Act now, before your health deteriorates any more....
If you or someone you know feels unwell as a result of clutter or disorganisation and don't know who to turn to, please don't poo-poo their difficulties and tell them to snap out of it - it's likely to make them feel worse.

Instead, why not suggest that they click here to download this simple to use ice-breaker document, fill it in and hand it to their GP at their next appointment?

Because life's too short for your health to be ruled by clutter or disorganisation.

SURVEY:  Please let me know how you get on using the Ice-Breaker form by completing this survey (click here).  

                     Thank you.

**UPDATE** Check out our stand at The National Hoarding Conference on 14th May 2018, at the start of National Hoarding Awareness Week.

Originally published July 2015 - updated May 2018

Click here to return to Rainbow Red's website

Friday, 1 June 2018

Cherry Rudge & Rainbow Red in the media & newsletters

Cherry Rudge - owner of Rainbow Red - is a pioneer in the UK decluttering and organising industry.

She is proud to have been raising awareness of the importance of using an holistic, person-centred, empathetic, non-judgemental, non-confrontational approach to help people affected by clutter since 2011.

Positions held

Here are a few examples of where you'll find her mentioned in newspapers, magazines, articles or interviews:

May 2018

May 2017
Thanked for her contribution on the acknowledgement page of Jo Cooke's insightful book "Understanding Hoarding" (published by Sheldon Press).  

  • Diagram of how the ADHD brain works in the context of clutter, disorganisation & hoarding
  • Account of her experiences as the daughter of a hoarder, including clearing his home when he died

January 2017

Mentioned in an article by journalist Toby Walne that was published in The Mail on Sunday and The NZ Herald.

Sept 2016
Getting organised outdoors - article in House Beautiful magazine 

January 2015
Featured in Age UK Mobility's article on "How to Safely Declutter Your Home".

May 2014
Brooklands Radio - Interview - Just Women - 20-May-2014
Promoting UK Hoarding Awareness Week - attending Parliamentary launch

January 2013
House Beautiful Magazine (Feb 2013 issue) - The Big Declutter (decluttering supplement)

Brooklands Radio - Interview - Fabulous Women Show 

October 2013
Cherry's hints and tips are mentioned in an article entitled "Organising Outdoors" in House Beautiful magazine.

November 2012
apdo-uk Newsletter - getting organised for Christmas

Healthy Planet (charity) - Stuff For Free Event - North London (Waltham Forest) 24-Nov

October 2012
Surrey Today - 18-Oct - Transition Ashtead helping people clear out for Christmas

apdo-uk Newsletter - office organisation

July 2012
apdo-uk Blog - What does it take to get you motivated enough to declutter and get organised?

June 2012
apdo-uk Newsletter - L of a lesson to beat moving day hell

April 2012
Anxiety UK (charity) website - Announcing partnership with apdo-uk

March 2012
Snapshot from the YouTube video showing Cherry (APDO's then Marketing & Partnerships Officer) addressing attendees at their annual conference.

February 2012
Serene Healing Blog - Feng Shui & "Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management"

March 2011
Radio Wey interview on The Wonderful Wacky Wireless Radio Show - Carers Week

Friday, 25 May 2018

Rainbow Red's Privacy Policy & GDPR

25th May is a memorable date.

According to Wikipedia, in 240BC it was the first recorded perihelion passage of Halley's Comet.  

In 1878 Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera H.M.S. Pinafore opened at the Opera Comique in London.  

In 1958 – Paul Weller, English singer, songwriter and musician (best known as a founder and frontman of The Jam and The Style Council) was born in Woking, Surrey (not too far from us), and in 1977 Star Wars was released in cinemas.

In 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becomes enforceable.

Like just about every small business in the UK, Rainbow Red has been hard at work updating its Privacy Policy to reflect our commitment to:
  • meeting our data protection obligations
  • being transparent about how we collect and use data
  • ensuring data privacy is protected

By the very nature of our industry, we often have access to very personal information, and value the trust that clients have in us to respect their need for privacy and confidentiality.

Our Privacy Policy sets out:
  1. What GDPR is
  2. Who is responsible for information we hold
  3. What data we collect
  4. How we collect and process it lawfully
  5. Why we collect and process your personal data
  6. What it is used for
  7. How it is kept safe
  8. How long it is retained for
  9. How we dispose of it
  10. What would happen to the information if the company were sold or shut down
  11. How we ask for your consent to be contacted using your existing data, and how you can opt out of being contacted by us
  12. Your legal rights regarding the data we hold about you
  13. How you can contact us with queries, requests for changes or complaints

Please CLICK HERE to read Rainbow Red's Privacy Policy.

Rainbow Red may change this policy from time to time by updating this document, and will announce these changes via Rainbow Red’s Blog, Facebook page and Twitter account.  There will also be a link to our Privacy Policy in our emails, and our Terms and Conditions document.

Rainbow Red has been in business since 2011, and we've communicated with an awful lot of people since then - which means we have accumulated an awful lot of data!  

We are currently busy working to dispose of information that does not comply with our revised Privacy Policy.

In addition, GDPR requires us to ask you whether you would like us to keep in touch with you (and hang onto your data), and if so how and how often.  

As there's only a VERY small team of us, we still have a lot of people to contact to ask for consent to retain their information, which means it could take some time before we get to you.  

So thank you for your patience!

Meanwhile, click HERE for a link to Rainbow Red's Pinterest Boards where you'll find all sorts of info about Data Protection & GDPR, plus loads of other helpful Hints & Tips on all manner of decluttering, organising and health-related topics.

Finally, to brighten your day, click HERE for a fun little video that might help make GDPR feel less stressful - enjoy!

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Our Adventures in San Francisco for the 18th International Conference on Hoarding & Cluttering

2018 is turning into one heck of a memorable year!  

So far this year I've attended "Organising Matters" - the Annual conference of The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers (APDO), plus two conferences on hoarding - one in San Francisco and the other London - and am very much looking forward to a third in Edinburgh in October

Plus our Level 1 Professional Hoarding Practitioner training course has just been launched - starting in July 2018, with more training to follow.

Selfie on the plane
Just after APDO's conference in March, Jo Cooke (of Hoarding Disorders UK CIC), Heather Matuozzo (of Clouds End CIC) and I flew off to San Francisco, full of excitement for our adventure!

Click here for an account that we wrote for APDO's newsletter (The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers), outlining the training and conference part of our trip.

The Berkeley City Club Hotel turned out to be the perfect place to stay, as it's less than a 10 minute walk to the conference venue (the University of California Berkeley), and about a 10-15 minute walk to the local Bart train station.   The line goes straight into the City, and it's easy to get from there to the airport too, with only one change.

The ''Little Castle'' was designed by the architect Julia Morgan, and founded in 1927 as The Berkeley Women's City Club. and is a Berkeley City and California State Historical Landmark.  

It has THE most amazing swimming pool, which opens from 5am - perfect for early-bird Jo!

Highlights of the trip for me included:
  • Spending a week in the company of two of the most gorgeous and compassionate women I have ever had the privilege of meeting
  • Not only did we have fabulous fun every single day, the three of us got to talk for an entire week amongst ourselves and with others (who are as passionate as us) about how we can help, support and raise awareness of the dilemas faced by people affected by extreme clutter, disorganisation or hoarding - how great was that?!
  • Meeting the amazing Hilary' Kacser and being mightily impressed by her memorable opening one-woman keynote performance of DisordR, The Play - a moving account of some of PakRat Patty's experiences as a hoarder
  • The pre-conference training by Dr Michael Tompkins, author of “Digging Out” and “The Clinician’s Guide to Severe Hoarding – A Harm Reduction"
  • Learning that the UK is actually ahead of the USA in some respects relating to hoarding.  For example, we have a National Hoarding Awareness Week, whereas campaigns are far more regionalised in the USA
  • Spending quality time with some wonderful folks from the US who are all doing amazing work helping people affected by hoarding (and raising awareness of the issues associated with this debilitating subject), including Marnie Matthews of The Clutter Movement, Eileen Dacey of North Shore Elder Services (near Boston, MA); Christa Tipton of NASWCA Technology Council & Orange County Task Force on Hoarding and Jette Selberg from the San Francisco Bay area.
  • Getting my photo taken with the compulsory hippy flowers in my hair - well, Berkeley was where the movement started, so it had to be done! (thank you Jette for being so thoughtful!)
  • Visiting the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco
  • Catching one of the famous cable cars (in the pouring rain!), and having a yummy meal in China Town
  • Strolling around art galleries in Oakland 
  • Enjoying eating our way around the World, with delicious food from places like Japan, Korea, Mexico, USA, China, Burma and Eritraea - to name but a few!
  • The fabulous in-flight service from Virgin Atlantic - especially coming home!
Jo, Hilary, Heather, Cherry
So, it's now time to start planning our trip for the next conference.  Sadly I've just missed the 4th Annual Hoarding of Animals Conference in Danvers, Massachusetts (which would have been fascinating), but watch out San Francisco, we'll definitely be back!
Heather, Dr Michael A. Tompkins, Cherry, Jo
Marnie, Cherry, Christa, Jette, Jo, Heather, Eileen