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Sunday, 3 February 2019

Professional Hoarding Practitioner Training

Our aim is to end up with a community of professional friends and colleagues who follow common best practices when working with people affected by hoarding behaviours, and support each other through what can be challenging and sometimes emotionally draining experiences.
There will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions and share knowledge and experiences – please help us make the day as interactive as possible.


Venues & Dates
- 11 March
- 13 June
- 12 September
- 5 December

Cost per person: £195 including refreshments & lunch 
Course overview:
Do you work with people with hoarding behaviours? Have you thought of working with hoarding issues but want some reassurance before giving it a go?
The aim of this one-day course is to teach professional practitioners about some of the challenges we face when working with people affected by extreme clutter.
By the end of the day you should have a better understanding of some of the complexities you’d be letting yourself in for by working with people who live with extreme amounts of clutter, and whether the it makes sense for you personally, or for your business.
Course content:
  • Hoarding Disorder Overview
  • Traits of Hoarders
  • Some Common Reasons for Saving
  • How to Assess a Hoarding Situation
  • Tactics and How to Develop Them with the Client
  • Some Techniques
  • Social Services
  • Multi Agency groups
  • Practical Challenges
  • Is it right for you or your business? 
  • Hoarder support – groups, self help
  • Safeguarding ourselves
Pre-training requirements - No requirements

To book please contact Jo Cooke -  

Testimonials - Here's what people have said about our Level 1 training
"Excellent training. Thoroughly enjoyed the level 1 course"
Paul Cooper - Hoarding Disorders UK

"All aspects of today’s training were exceptional. Certainly very though provoking. Gained additional knowledge and understanding. Sincere thanks to you all".  
Gail Tranter, Environmental Health, Newark & Sherwood DC - October 2018

I just wanted to say ‘Thank you’ for a informative and useful training day today. I left the day feeling informed and keen to learn more. You are all very inspiring women".
Anon – July 2018
"The training left me wanting more even though I am still not sure that dealing with serious hoarding clients is for me. So, I would like to come to level 2 when you run it.
I also think that the work that the three of you do is nothing short of amazing. As I said to you yesterday, this seems more like a vocation. It was so interesting to hear some of your case studies and also very moving".
Mary D – July 2018

       15 March
       14 June
       13 Sept
       6 Dec

Cost per person: £195 including lunch and refreshments

Course overview:
This one-day course expands on Clouds End’s/Hoarding Disorders UK’s/Rainbow Red’s Hoarding Awareness Training for Professional Practitioners Level 1 training, and examines in more detail (through practical case study exercises) some of the proven techniques and tools used by professional organisers and agencies to help hoarders achieve a more functional and energising environment in which to live.

By the end of the day you should have an understanding of current best practice processes and be able to use a number of risk assessment and measurement tools designed to empower you to help people affected by extreme cluttering and hoarding behaviours make a positive and sustainable difference to their homes and their lives.

Course content:
  • Getting through the door (if you’re lucky)
  • How to stay there and how to make progress - Motivational Interviewing & change
  • Assessments, measuring progress & the importance of evidence-based reporting
  • Safety in the home - from a member of the Fire and Rescue Service
  • Hoarding taskforces, multi-agency groups & hoarding protocols
  • What to do in extreme situations – eviction, squalor (Environmental Health), animal hoarding
  • Safeguarding, wellbeing, legal considerations (Mental Capacity Act 2007, Mental Health Act, Care Act 2014) & Advocacy
  • After care for your client – self-help; ongoing support
  • Protecting yourself and your business – including contracts, pricing & credit control, DBS checks, insurance
  • The voice of a hoarder
Pre-training requirements - It will make MUCH more sense if you've attended our Level 1 training!

To book please contact Jo Cooke -  

Testimonials - Here's what people have said about our Level 2 training

"Very well presented, very clear and easy to understand.  Trainers are very knowledgeable and thoroughly enjoyed it. Look forward to Level 3 :-)"

"Really enjoyed this course, very empowering, thank you"

"Another brilliant day - motivating!"

       5th April 2019
It's not about the stuff - it's about the people

Cost per person: £195 including lunch and refreshments

Course overview: 
  • Introductions
  • Level 2 re-cap & reflections
  • Case study exercises
  • A hoarder’s experience of working with professional practitioners, support services (eg. social services), therapists, etc
  • Applying motivational interviewing and other techniques in the context of working with hoarding behaviours
  • Putting the techniques learned into practice with role playing exercises, with actors in the client role.
  • Lessons learned

Pre-training requirements:  Must have attended Level 2 of our Professional Hoarding Practitioner training (and preferably Level 1 too) 

To book please contact Jo Cooke -  

About the Trainers

Heather, Jo and Cherry are all ILM* and NCFE* Accredited trainers.

*Training Accreditations:  
  • ILM = The Institute of Leadership & Management
  • NCFE = a registered educational charity

Between us we have over 20 years’ experience of working with people with extreme cluttering and hoarding problems, and regularly deliver training, coaching and advice to a variety of organisations including housing associations, mental health teams, charities, fire and rescue services and social care teams.  

Heather Matuozzo founded the social enterprise Clouds End CIC in 2007, and is a professional trainer, declutterer, and activist for people who hoard. 

She co-founded the Pan London Hoarding Task Force and National Hoarding Task Force initiative, and runs three hoarder support groups in the West Midlands. 

Heather has taken part in BBC’s documentaries including Britain’s Biggest Hoarders; talks frequently on the radio; is Chair of the charity HoardingUK, and is an associate trainer for the mental health charity MIND.

Jo Cooke is a Director of the Community Interest Company Hoarding Disorders UK, and also runs her own professional organising and decluttering business Tapioca Tidy.

She has been featured in The Guardian newspaper, and is the author of the book “Understanding Hoarding” which is fast becoming the “go to manual” for hoarders, their families and agencies that work with people exhibiting hoarding behaviours.

Jo runs hoarding support groups in Bracknell and Newbury, and was a finalist in the Venus Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award 2018.


Cherry Rudge of Rainbow Red is the daughter of a hoarder, and a former Marketing, PR & Partnerships Officer and Acting President of The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers (APDO). 

She was a Member of The Chief Fire Officers Association’s Hoarding Working Group, and helped organised the first ever UK Hoarding Awareness Week in 2014.

Cherry is a Dementia Friend, volunteers at an ADHD/Autism Support Group, and devised the Hoarding Ice-Breaker form to empower people whose health has been affected by disorganisation, clutter and hoarding to start a conversation with a GP or medical professional, so they can be signposted for appropriate treatment and practical support.


Sunday, 27 January 2019

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:

January 2019
BBC Surrey Radio - 24th Jan 2019 - talking about Marie Kondo's Netflix decluttering programme, "sparking joy" and how it differs from working with people who have hoarding behaviours
Fast foward to 2hrs 23mins -

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

Monday, 21 January 2019

Celebrity ADHD

Photo: Dan Jones - via The Sun online
So, in an interview with The Sun newspaper, British tv celebrity Ant McPartlin admitted he has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - ADHD – at the age of 43. 

In 2018 the presenter and on-screen partner of Declan Donnelly (“I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!” “Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway” and “Britain's Got Talent”) was arrested and convicted for drink driving, after which he took time off to go to rehab - which eventually lead him to receive his ADHD diagnosis.

To many people (mainly those who have ADHD or their families) this probably won't be a surprise.

As it says on the website of Fastminds - a wonderful ADHD and Autism Support Group in Kingston-upon-Thames in Surrey that we’re proud to be involved with – the implications of late ADHD diagnosis include:
  • Chronic psychological distress
  • Learned Helplessness
  • Poor self-care
  • Substance abuse (in 2015 after botched knee surgery Ant slowly became addicted to taking prescription drugs along with alcohol, including use before television appearances)
  • Low self-esteem
  • Employment difficulties
  • Troubled long-term relationships (Ant was divorced in 2018)
Other UK celebrities with an ADHD diagnosis include comedian Rory Bremner; broadcaster Richard Bacon; performer, producer and award-winning founder of the band Black Eyed Peas; and Olympic gymnast (and Strictly Come Dancing winner) Louis Smith, to name but a few.

Of the four, Louis Smith and are the only ones to have been diagnosed as a child. 

We hope that Ant will join a good support group like Fastminds, as he’d be amongst his “tribe”: creative adults who probably struggle with the same type of Executive functioning issues as he probably does:
  • Paying attention
  • Organising and planning
  • Initiating tasks and staying on them
  • Regulating emotions
  • Self-monitoring - keeping track of what you’re doing (like speeding perhaps Ant?)
It helps when people understand they're not going through the challenges alone - there are others in the group who may have lived through similar difficulties. They share their experiences (good and bad) of things such as mental illness; symptom history and diagnosis pathway, and strategies that help them cope with things like relationships, organising paperwork, financial problems, and decision making (such as decluttering).

Cherry Rudge - Founder of Rainbow Red and the Hoarding Ice-Breaker Form - has been studying ADHD and Autism and attending local ADHD support groups for several years; in 2017 she wrote about how the ADHD brain in the context of clutter, disorganisation, compulsive shopping/acquiring or hoarding in Jo Cooke's acclaimed book "Understanding Hoarding", and contributed a diagram (below) which illustrates some of the challenges faced by people with ADHD.

At an ADHD Support Group like Fastminds, Ant would be welcomed with open arms, and not judged. Because Fastminds is peer-led, and run by volunteers who live with ADHD and/or Autism every day, and people can be themselves, without having to put on a show and be what others feel they should be.

And, by the way, we should point out that Fastminds is an acronym for common symptoms that are often seen in ADHD:
  • Forgetful
  • Achieving below potential
  • Stuck in a rut
  • Time challenged
  • Motivationally challenged
  • Impulsive
  • Novelty seeking
  • Distractible
  • Scattered 
Without effective support groups and campaigners like the wonderfully creative folks at Fastminds (check out the amazing cards they designed and sell to raise money as part of their Neurodiversity Festival in 2018) there might be an awful lot more people in rehab, or in a drunken stupor or in jail, all because of a genetic neurological condition that has ruled their lives since birth.

Sadly, despite the increasing need for support groups like Fastminds (because Autism and ADHD are genetic, so it's not going away any time soon!) they receive very little support from Government, and getting an ADHD or Autism diagnosis can take months or even years. Imagine the cost of this to tax payers in antidepressants and counselling alone (let alone benefits payments!).

Some, like Ant, have money to pay for such treatment and therapy - others do not.

So, Ant, we wish you all the very best for the future, and hope that you use your gift of ADHD to support support groups like Fastminds, and help raise awareness of the types of challenges faced by people born with a condition that can be:
  • wonderful - because of the gift of creativity and entrepreneurial spirit it can bring; there are LOADS of famous celebrities and public figures around The World who have ADHD, including American Olympic swimming legend Michael Phelps, American singer and actor Justin Timberlake (who also has OCD), hotel heiress Paris Hilton and American Olympic gold medal gymnast Simone Biles.
  • a curse - because of the overwhelm and mental and physical health issues that can come with it; common co-morbid conditions include Autism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Depression, General Anxiety Disorder, Fibromyalgia or OCD. Which often means people are unable to work and rely on benefits to live (that's another blog post for another time....)
  • Undiagnosed for many years. Medical professionals rarely have sufficient knowledge about ADHD or Autism to recognise it, and just end up treating a person's mental health (by prescribing CBT or antidepressants) instead of getting to the root cause and underlying reasons about why the patient's mental health has been affected
  • misdiagnosed by medical professionals - it's not uncommon for people to be misdiagnosed with conditions such as Bipolar Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder

If you’d like to know more about ADHD, please take a look at Rainbow Red’s Pinterest board for LOADS of helpful videos and information.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Fastminds Neurodiversity Arts Festival 2018

Cherry Rudge on the Hoarding Ice-Breaker
stand at Fastminds Festival

I feel very privileged to have been allowed to promote the Hoarding Ice-Breaker Form at an amazing ground-breaking event recently (14th & 15th September 2018) - The Fastminds Neurodiversity Arts Festival 2018.

It was organised by the wonderful folks at Fastminds - the Adult ADHD/ASC Support Group I'm involved with in Kingston-upon-Thames.

Performers, artists and people affected by a vast spectrum of neurodiversities and medical conditions came from far and wide for two days of creative inspiration, live music, interactive performances, short film screenings, market stalls, story-telling, poetry, and being themselves - enjoying spending time with people who accept them for who they are, irrespective of their disabilities - hidden or otherwise.

Cherry explaining the Hoarding Ice-Breaker form
to the Mayor of Kingston
The amount of effort, hard work and organising that goes into creating an event like this is phenomenal, and is even more magnificent in this case because of the difficulties with planning and organising that people with neurological conditions such as ADHD and Autism experience.

The festival’s Creative Director - Isabelle Haythorne – did a GRAND job!  She's an art therapist and runs the Sutton ASD group.  Her can-do attitude and her connections with her partner Keith Gould - who has experience of live events and was the festival’s Technical Manager - made it all possible.

Chill-out room
I was particularly blown away by the fantastic chill-out room - where people could go for some peace and quiet – it was a triumph, so many congratulations to Sarah and her team!

Fastminds art
Wonderful original canvas artworks created by members of the Fastminds group were on sale, together with some absolutely STUNNING cards of paintings they'd created to raise money for the event and the group.  The cards are also available to purchase online - click here for the Fastminds section of the We All Send Cards website, or contact Fastminds .

Sheena Crankson with
Mayor of Kingston

Thay Thayalan

Special praise must go to the founder of Fastminds, Sheena Crankson, without whom there would have been no festival and no support group.

Sheena had a life-changing experience when she was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 47, after her son was diagnosed with ADHD (he also has Asperger’s).  She is the Fairy Godmother and Guardian Angel for the Fastminds group, and works tirelessly to support and advocate for members, especially in their hour of need - whether it be offering help filling in forms; helping members to challenge cuts to their benefits; helping folks get a referral for a diagnosis; sourcing help and support; arranging activities for the group to take part in, or simply being there for them to vent their frustrations. 

Afterward the festival Sheena said “A huge thanks to all the fabulous folks who attended this amazing event, and to all our volunteers who selflessly gave up their time to support us.  We made new friends and strengthened ties with existing ones.

The core aims of this event were to:
  • Be user-led by members of our Fastminds support group
  • Demonstrate the value of neurodiversity within society and the arts
  • Promote the creativity of neurodiverse people, with free art & design workshops
  • Promote inclusivity and bring both ‘neurotypical’ and neurodiverse people together
  • Enable neurodiverse people’s voices to be heard, particularly by opinion formers and decision makers within NHS
  • Enhance partnerships between community, healthcare providers and organisations in neurodiverse contexts in Kingston Upon Thames.
  • Exhibit fine art, photography, film and performance (poetry, music, dance, standup comedy).
  • Keep the event disability / sensory friendly by making / providing reasonable adjustments
We’re delighted that the two days more than achieved these goals, and we’re already planning further similar events”.

Anna Dyson at her Intuitive Oils stand.
The leggings, bags and cushions were fantastic!
During the festival I was asked to speak in a thought-provoking and deeply moving story-telling session, run by Alex of The Mindful Compass.  One of the story tellers -  talented artist Anna Dyson of Intuitive Oils in Kingston - gave a moving account of her struggles at school where she was unsuccessful with her exams; the difficulties she’d encountered of getting a diagnosis of ADHD (which finally happened when she was 52), Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Irlen Sydrome, and the challenges she faces on a daily basis getting help and support for herself and her neurodiverse family.

After the festival Anna said "I have laughed, cried, danced, sung, drawn, and been drawn and painted, spoke twice in front of a live audience, watched inspiring films, live music, was blown away by the live art installation The Suit Project, and so much more". 

"I’ve met some of the bravest most courageous, amazing , colourful , intelligent, talented and creative people from all ages and all walks of life. I’ve seen people grow in confidence after exhibiting their art in our gallery, or having their art made into greetings cards, and also taking on other roles that they’re not familiar with.

But most of all been reminded of the massive difference it can make when you are with people who just ‘get you’ just the way you are". 

I'm very grateful to my wonderfully thoughtful friend Anna - who has high functioning Autism (and suspects she may have ADHD too) and raises loads of money for the National Autistic Society - for driving all the way from the other side of Surrey to attend the event.  This was a major achievement, as travelling can be difficult for her due to the sensory overload that goes with it - and of course then the social interaction with members of the public can sometimes be problematic.  Fortunately, she thoroughly enjoyed herself and had a go at making various crafts, listening to music and immersing herself in the amazing atmosphere.

My own personal key takeaways from this wonderful event are that:
  • By working together amazing things can be achieved.
  • The event brought together some amazing non-judgemental, empathetic individuals from all walks of life: people who had been born with neurological conditions; people who had acquired or contracted them or had been affected by them through family or friends.
  • Having excellent local peer-led support groups such as Fastminds empowers people to talk about the problems they experience with like-minded, non-judgemental, compassionate people who have probably experienced similar issues.
  • Getting an appropriate early diagnosis and appropriate person-centred help and support – whether it be for neurological conditions; or issues associated with an inability to plan, declutter or organise; hoarding issues or mental health issues – could save the country millions of pounds, as without practical help and support, the implications can include chronic psychological distress; learned helplessness; poor self-care; substance abuse; low self-esteem; employment difficulties and troubled long-term relationships.
  • Having the Hoarding Ice-Breaker form at the festival was the right thing to do, as it encouraged conversations about the difficulties that many people with neurological conditions have with organising, planning, decluttering, disorganisation, hoarding and compulsive shopping, and how it affects their health. Some people were in tears talking about it, as I was the first person they’d spoken to who really understood their predicaments and who offered hope (through the services of Rainbow Red) for being able to make practical progress towards achieving their goals.
  • Embracing neurodiversity enriches my life, and has made me a more understanding and patient person as a result.
  • Amazing people like Sheena should be paid to run support groups for vulnerable people, and not have to give up their precious time without being rewarded for the invaluable service and safe-havens (micro-communities) they offer, or spend their time fund-raising to subsidise their expenses.
  • Educating people about neurodiversity and the difficulties faced by people affected by neurological conditions is essential if Governments and future generations are ever going to consider implementing a more holistic and compassionate approach towards supporting people who are neurologically different and vulnerable to abuse.  Abuse like withdrawing or reducing benefits for no good reason, for example.
  • It’s about time the Government realised the damage it can do to vulnerable people by cutting their benefits without justification.  The stresses and strains of receiving an inappropriate benefit grade without consultation; the sense of rejection; having to jump through bureaucratic hoops to appeal, and the financial and emotional strain it puts on people and their families often results in their mental and physical health deteriorating (and the health of their supporters too), which must surely increase annual health and social care costs by millions of pounds!
An art installation by wheelchair artist Mary Ellen
which included alarming statistics about the
number of people who have died since
being told they were fit enough to return
to work...
It also puts additional pressure on volunteers like Sheena, who already have more than enough on their plates.

So I hope that sufficient funds can be raised to support Fastminds and make the Neurodiversity Arts Festival an annual or bi-annual event;  that way it will continue to raise awareness of the type of issues that were discussed in the story-telling sessions, and ensure that they get discussed at Fastminds Support Group meetings, as well as at both local and national parliamentary levels

For more information about the Fastminds Support Group and their weekly and monthly meetings at Kingston Quaker Centre, check out the events page on their website:

If you would like to help support Sheena, the Fastminds Support Group and the Fastminds Neurodiversity Arts Festival, please consider:
  •      buying original canvases of the artwork for the cards – to have a look at what’s available, simply pop along to one of the Fastminds Support Group meetings, or contact Sheena Crankson directly
Meanwhile, scroll down for a few more photos of the festival - hope to see you next year!

FASTMINDS is an acronym for common symptoms that are often seen in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):
  •      Forgetful.
  •      Achieving below potential.
  •      Stuck in a rut.
  •      Time challenged.
  •      Motivationally challenged.
  •      Impulsive.
  •      Novelty seeking.
  •      Distractible.
  •      Scattered.

What is Neurodiversity
According to the University of California (San Francisco), there are more than 600 neurological disorders - diseases that affect the brain and the central and autonomic nervous system, and millions of people around the World.  

They're broadly classified into:
  •       Sudden onset conditions (e.g. acquired brain injury or spinal cord injury)
  •       Intermittent and unpredictable conditions (e.g. epilepsy, ME, certain types of headache, or the early stages of multiple sclerosis)
  •       Progressive conditions (e.g. motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s disease, or later stages of multiple sclerosis)
  •       Stable neurological conditions (e.g. post-polio syndrome, or cerebral palsy in adults)

Common examples include ADHD; Alzheimer's Disease; Aneurysms; Asperger's Syndrome; Autism; Bell's Palsy; Brain and Spinal Tumours; Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; Cerebral Atrophy; Dementia; Dyslexia; Guillain-Barre Syndrome; Huntingdon's Disease; Lyme Disease; Meningitis; Muscular Dystrophy; Sleep Apnea; Stroke; Tourette Syndrome and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Check out the NHS website for some fascinating facts and statistics about Neurological conditions.