Saturday, 1 October 2016

Why Rainbow Red?

People often ask me why I named my business Rainbow Red.  Well, there are various parts to my answer:

  1. I love rainbows
  2. I love colourful things
  3. I wanted my logo to have an uplifting symbol that makes people smile, and gives hope
  4. Red happens to be my favourite colour
  5. Cherries are red (all sorts of different shades of red)
  6. In colour-therapy, red is considered to be a balancing/grounding colour that is supposed to give courage and strength

Hand on heart I promise I had no idea at the time of all the other connections that rainbows have!  Amongst other things:


  1. The rainbow is a symbol of people who are lesbiangaybisexual, transgender or questioning (their sexuality)/queer (LGBTQ) pride and LGBT social movement
  2. The rainbow-colored infinity symbol (right) is often used as a symbol for the diversity of the autism spectrum as well as neurodiversity in general.
    1. Note:  I now believe that a large proportion of my older clients have undiagnosed Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC)
  3. Junior Girlguides are called Rainbows
  4. There's a fab UK children's charity called the Rainbow Trust
  5. hard rock heavy metal band - not really my cup of tea! 

And then, of course, there's the fab tv show called Rainbow that was a childhood favourite from the 1970s! 


So I'll stick to the association with uplifting rather than ear-splitting images/things if you don't mind, and leave you with a photo taken today at Hampton Court Palace after my husband and I had proudly walked round the gardens to see all 15 fabulous unearthed gnomes (I helped create Umbriel of the Tiltyard, with my friends from the Fastminds and Unique ADHD Groups) - the best way to end a superb day!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Live alone? Worried about being buried by clutter and no one knowing you're unwell, or worse...?

If you live alone and don't have many friends, who would know if something happened to you?  

If an accident occurred and you died at home alone, what state would your body be in by the time someone found you?  

Sadly, for some people, such as the elderly with no family or friends, or those who isolate themselves from social interaction - including some hoarders and those with issues relating to Autism and neuro-diversity - the answers to these questions can be painful to hear, and decidedly unpleasant for the rescuers if the scenario came true. 

Add this to the conscious and unconscious anxiety that often goes along with having heaps of stuff ("what shall we do with it? I don't want it to go to waste; it might come in handy one day so I shouldn't get rid of it"), and the result can be a melt-down which causes people to freeze with fear, and end up doing nothing.

So how CAN people reduce the risk of all this happening?
Here are a few options which could reduce the amount of time that might go by before an alarm was raised about a person's wellbeing and location.

Cultivate a friendly neighbour
Maybe have an agreement with a friendly neighbour, postman or firefighter or police officer whereby if your curtains aren’t pulled back by a certain time each day, they phone you or knock on your door to check you’re OK.
  • You may want to make it a reciprocal arrangement and give them a key, as my elderly father did with his elderly neighbour, supporting each other.
  • A firefighter or police officer might be a good person to befriend, as it would probably be they who would be the ones authorised to break in if nobody else has a key, or knows the code for a key safe https://keysafe.co.uk

Phone call check-ups
CareCalls is a telephone reassurance call service where - for just £3 per week - you can get up to 4 automated phone calls per day, seven days per week.  And if they don’t respond someone else (who you nominate – preferably with a key to your property) is informed.  www.carecalls.co.uk.  
  • I can’t vouch for them personally (yet), but it seems a great idea
  • If you’re often out and about (including holidays), choose a time for the calls that would suit your schedule. 
AgeUK also offers a “Call in Time” service, where you get to actually talk with someone, although that’s primarily for people over 60.

Neighbourhood Watch/religion/culture watch
Perhaps ask your local Neighbourhood Watch group, local religious or cultural group for some advice or support.

Lions Club Message in a Bottle
I organise for all my elderly or vulnerable clients who live at home alone to have a LionsClub Message in a Bottle (usually available from local community or day care centres).  

The idea of the scheme is that people entering your home in case of an emergency have access to personal information about you, such as Next of Kin and what medication you’re on. http://lionsclubs.co/lions-message-in-a-bottle/

Legal stuff - Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) & Will
Appointing an Attorney to act on your behalf if something happened to you would ensure someone can make decisions about your affairs (health and wellbeing, finance and property) if you are incapacitated (ie. not dead but unwell – eg. had a serious stroke).  

Crucially, a solicitor can act as an Attorney, which could be appropriate for anyone who doesn’t have any close relatives or friends who could act on their behalf.

Here’s a link to some information about LPA's on the Government’s website.  https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney/overview

Consult a solicitor to create a Will; this will ensure that your funeral and disposal of assets are carried out according to your wishes.  https://www.gov.uk/make-will

Fit a Telecare System
Having done Surrey Fire & Rescue Service's excellent Dementia training, we're massive fans of Telecare systems.

They provide a 24-hour emergency call system, which empowers people to live independently in their own home, safe in the knowledge that help is at hand at the touch of a button.
The equipment is easy to install and consists of a small base unit linked to your telephone socket and a pendant trigger, which can be worn discreetly around a resident's neck or wrist.  They can simply press a button in an emergency and an alarm call will be sent to their alarm centre, which is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

Consult your local authority for details of your local scheme.

Safe & Well Check (also known as a Home Fire Safety Check)
Reduce the risk of fires in your home, by speaking to your local Fire & Rescue Service about them visiting to carry out a Safe & Well (Home Fire Safety) check.

The visits focus on three key areas:
·       Identify and be aware of the potential fire risks within your home.
·       Know what to do in order to reduce or prevent these risks.
·       Put together an escape plan in case a fire does break out and ensure you have working smoke alarms.

The inspection of your home is not as intrusive as it sounds. The Fire & Rescue Service will visit your home, sit down and talk to you about fire safety issues in your home covering areas such as electrical safety, smoking safety and the use of electric blankets.

Then, with your permission, they’ll look at the various rooms within your home paying particular attention to areas such as overloads plug sockets or wires trapped under carpets. They will also ensure that doors shut correctly and advise you of any remedial work that they feel may be in order for you to become safer within your home. You are welcome to ask any questions that you feel you need answering in respect of your home safety. They will also run through an escape plan if you do not already have one.

In addition to the above, you may qualify for free smoke alarms to be fitted within your home. The Fire & Rescue Service will carry this out completely free of charge and can fit them in a matter of minutes, ensuring you are safer from the moment they leave.

Ask a trusted person to help you declutter your piles
Areas of your home that attract mountains of clutter (like newspapers) can become a death trap if avalanches occur. 

A declutter buddy must be empathetic, non-judgemental and have your best interests in mind, rather than their own agenda. 

And if you can’t find a declutter-buddy to help you, there’s bound to be a professional organiser nearby who can.  Find one here.  Not all of them work have experience of working with hoarders or people with mental health problems, so be choosy and do ask lots of questions until you feel comfortable you’ve found the right person.

Use the ice-breaker form
If any or all of this becomes just too overwhelming and makes you feel ill or at your wits end, fear not - all is not lost. 

Download and complete this ice-breaker form, to start up a conversation with your GP or other medical practitioner to ask for help.  If it doesn’t say exactly what you want to say, don’t worry – nothing is perfect; write on it and play around with the words until it says what you want it to say. 

Find out more about it here.

It’ll be a starting point that will give you something to talk about, and could mean that if something happens, you won’t be alone in your home - lost amongst the piles - for too long before help arrives.

Do please let us know how you get on.


First published July 2015 - updated June 2016


Monday, 16 May 2016

Relationships & Mental Health

It's Mental Health Awareness Week, which is focusing on RELATIONSHIPS. 
As a professional organiser, I've lost track of how many times I've worked with people who I believe may have undiagnosed Autism Spectrum Condition (including Asperger's) or ADHD - conditions which can make every day skills like organising, planning, house-keeping or time-management difficult.
I've also lost track of the number of times where my client and their partner (or client and other family members) have relationship and/or mental health problems - often due to frustrations about clutter, disorganisation or hoarding.

And nine times out of ten, these two situations can go hand in hand with some kind of bullying, oppression, repression or suppression in their lives for one or both parties, which may have started or happened in childhood.  The result can be low self-esteem, lack confidence, anxiety, depression or all of these - or worse. 

It's a vicious circle:  undiagnosed condition + mental illness = damaged relationships = downward spiraling physical and mental state for one or both partners = the clutter continues or gets worse.
So I encourage clients to step back and consider things from an holistic perspective.  Ask themselves "what might have made them - or their partner - different (not "neurotypical" - NT)?"
Realising that conditions such as ADHD and Autism are treatable and not just an excuse for laziness or exhibiting "unreasonable", inattentive or obsessive behaviour can transform a relationship, as can a better understanding of mental illness.  
With the right diagnosis and the right treatment, perhaps they would have more patience with each other, and relationship breakdowns could be prevented.  
This video about relationships for spouses with Asperger's explains how easy it can be for seemingly impatient or uncaring partners to misunderstand situations and put relationships and people's mental health at risk - their own and others.  
I love the idea that the Mental Health Foundation has come up with for Mental Health Awareness Week 2016 - making a Relationship Resolution; pledging to take the time to assess how much time we actively commit to building and maintaining good relationships, and to ask whether we can invest more in being present with and listening to friends, family and colleagues - for the sake of our mental health and others.
By promoting good relationships and tackling the barriers to forming them - including mounting pressures on work–life balance and the impact of bullying and unhealthy relationships - we can help ourselves and others deal with life-
clutter as well as physical clutter and disorganisation.  

Reducing mental health pressures on our bodies helps improve our physical health and enables us to live longer and happier lives with fewer physical and mental health problems.  It's a win-win situation, which proves that decluttering is good for us!
Life Isn't For Ever, so let's live it well....

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Testimonials

PROFESSIONAL ORGANISING INDUSTRY LEADER & CAMPAIGNER

Hoarding disorders self-help support groups

"Thank you so so much for presenting at our support group (Newbury) last night.  I know the group benefitted enormously from it and it was good to see such great interaction and the ease the group felt in terms of sharing their stories.  Brilliant - you have a real talent in drawing people out."
Jo Cooke - Hoarding Disorders CIC (April 2016)

Mentoring professional organisers
"Thank you so much Cherry for your time and counsel on all things hoarding this morning.
It gave me the strength and focus to understand what I have taken on and feel okay about integrating this into my working life.
Sarah Macnaught, Professional Organiser, Rightsize Ltd

Listing on apdo-uk's website under Previous Post Holders
"Cherry Rudge was responsible for Marketing & Sponsorship from November 2011 until May 2014. She also held the post of Acting President from October 2013 to March 2014, and her contribution to the ongoing development of the Association in that time remains of enormous value to us."

Mention in NAPO News (USA equivalent to apdo-uk) - Sept/Oct 2012 (page 12)
Extract from article by Cassie Tillett, apdo-uk's President at the time:
"I keep saying to my creative and tireless colleague, Cherry Rudge, 'Please stop having good ideas! There aren't enough hours in the day to implement them all!'"

TRAINING, WORKSHOPS, SEMINARS
Workshop at APDO conference (March 2016) - "How to ask for help if clutter, disorganisation or hoarding is affecting your health" 
‘I recently attended Cherry’s workshop on “How to ask for health if clutter/disorganisation/hoarding is affecting your health” at the APDO conference and came away very inspired by Cherry’s presentation.  Cherry’s workshop was not only well researched and extremely informative. But Cherry also highlighted the crucial facts relating to the implications, impact and regulations surrounding hoarding disorder.  Cherry speaks with confidence and passion.  I came away with some excellent tips on how to help my clients. Cherry is very inspirational.  I would certain recommend attending this workshop. Excellent.‘
 Jo Cooke - Hoarding Disorders CIC


"The 'Working with Hoarders' training day today in Reigate was brilliant!
Thank you both Cherry and Heather (and Andy and Vassoulla).
feel my understanding of my work is improved whether I eventually work with serious hoarding or not."
+++
"Very insightful and I believe a must for everybody working with hoarders or contemplating to do so.  
What a brilliant day!   Thanks so much." 
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"The info day at Reigate was just great. So informative and interesting. 
I'm so glad I managed to get there."   
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"Thanks Heather and Cherry - found it very useful, not least as it really brought home what working with hoarders might involve."
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“Thank you very much for the workshop on Saturday. I thought it went very well. Everybody has said on their evaluation forms that they would recommend the workshop to others.” 
 Kay Hadwick, Senior Team Officer, Health and Well being stream - Surrey Libraries

Workshop for Leatherhead Residents Association - October 2012
“A useful workshop – can’t wait to get home and start! Can see how I can tackle this long term issue and can see loads of benefits of me decluttering. Thanks so much!!!”,and “My head is spinning with all the good ideas and my reactions to the workshop. All very positive. You have inspired us to tackle a very tricky and sore subject, still giving us respect and hope for the future”.
Anonymous, Leatherhead`

VOLUNTEER WORK with ADHD Support Groups
Email received from a member who participated in creative sessions for The Gnome Project at Hampton Court

Dear Cherry,

You did a really excellent job organising the logistics and formalities during the Gnome Project at Hampton Court and giving us all a splendid experience.
I had a great and memorable time and I'm sure everyone else did too.
You should be justly proud of your efforts! Thank you!
x x x


DECLUTTERING & ORGANISING
Extract from email received from client offering a reference: 
The most obvious qualities that Cherry Rudge brings to decluttering and organising are energy, goodwill and good sense.
Less obvious – because always tactfully understated – are high intelligence, skilled project management and the true caring that informs everything she does.
What more can one ask for? Cherry has it all.
Anonymous, Hersham, Surrey

Fun comment passed on from client:
Son: "Mum - it's very cluttered in here - you need to get Cherry to come round!"
 Anonymous, Farnham, Surrey
Note in card received from a client going through difficult times...
"Very many thanks for your patience and continued support through a difficult time.  
It would not be possible without kind friends/helpers like you."
Anonymous, Surrey
Text received from a client decluttering by hereself over the Easter weekend
"Excellent! Love what u said ("Think of the contents of the garage as a huge meal;
eating it all at once could give you indigestion! Little and often is better and easier to digest!").
Explains it perfectly! OK i have now been to dump and charity shop, left stuff there and didn't bring anything back! Yippee!!


Anonymous, Surrey



After an initial consultation with a first-time client
"I wanted to thank you for your time and for being so thoughtful and considerate. Thank you for doing your job so well... I was dreading seeing you and how you would react. I immediately felt very comfortable with you.
You have an abundance of compassion... And excessively kind.

I liked everything you suggested and I’m sure ..No positive..! That together, we will put my house (and my head!) into shape..!! (Even writing that makes me feel good.).

I was flabbergasted as to the lengths you have gone to on my behalf and yet again another heartfelt and earnest ‘thank you’ for all your valiant and sterling efforts."
Anonymous, Surrey
Helping an elderly client with 57 years-worth of stuff
"I contacted Gina Lawrie and Cherry Rudge seeking help for my elderly mother to empty a large house that had been the family home for 57 years.  This was a substantial undertaking and needed to be completed by a fixed deadline.  Despite the emergence of numerous unexpected obstacles, Gina and Cherry worked tirelessly to keep the project on track, delivering extra hours and complete dedication to reach a successful conclusion.  Gina's sensitivity and professional background in psychology and social work enabled her to help my elderly mother process the difficult transitions, while Cherry's project management skills were essential for keeping the job on schedule and handling the tracking and the logistics. 
We could not have completed the house sale without Gina and Cherry's professional guidance and help which incidentally, also included a lot of grungy, hard work.  Their fees were completely offset by the sale of the household goods, and as a result, my family has been able to move on with our lives, knowing that this huge task is finally behind us.  Thank you Gina and Cherry!"
A.G.
Reducing the burden
"I felt the weight fall off my shoulders using your service,
as I was actually achieving something positive at last..." 
Anonymous, Staines
Extract from "From a client's perspective"
"Despite disbelief at the beginning, I have come to know that there are such people as professional declutterers, and that they do really valuable work. I know too that they do more than just help people to declutter: they can provide balm for a troubled soul and help one back to a measure of self-esteem.
For that alone I salute Cherry and her colleagues....."
Anonymous, Hersham 
Hoarding can affect health
I knew the fact that I needed to declutter my house and garage was affecting my health, and not knowing where to locate someone to help me had become very stressful. So finding Cherry was a blessing; her regular visits have given me the companionship and motivation I needed to get my home and confidence back.

With her help I am making great progress; I’m saving money by not buying duplicate items for my fridge or food cupboards, as I can see instantly when I already have them! The handyman and electrician she introduced me to for the urgently needed home improvements, have been reliable and provide excellent value for money. 
Cherry is my decluttering and health and safety conscience, and I thoroughly recommend her services.
Elderly client, Hersham
Preparing house for sale
As someone who gets very flustered by clutter, I was incredibly relieved when Cherry arrived to declutter my life and prepare my house in Kent for sale.

Without her practical help and advice, buyers would not have looked twice at the property’s potential, and it was ready to market far quicker than I could ever have achieved. This not only meant I was able to move house sooner, but getting rid of unwanted clutter meant I saved money on storage!
Anonymous, Walton-on-Thames
Overwhelmed by paperwork
I much prefer being outside in the fresh air getting exercise, than being stuck indoors with piles of papers and filing. So Cherry has been very helpful decluttering, filing, doing paperwork and generally creating order for me indoors while I’m cutting the grass outside.
Elderly client with dementia, Effingham, Surrey

Thursday, 31 March 2016

How can clutter, disorganisation or hoarding affect our health?

LIFE - Life Isn't For Ever, so treasure it, and yourself and live it WELL!

That was the key message from the workshop that I ran recently at the annual conference of The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers UK (APDO) in London. 


Participants (including professional organisers and a recovering-hoarder) came away with a better understanding of:
  • the types of health and wellbeing risks associated with living in a malfunctioning home
  • how ill-health - both physical and mental - can cause clutter, disorganisation and hoarding
  • where to go in the UK for appropriate help and support
I also encouraged professional organisers to tell their clients about the ice-breaker form I devised in 2015 - it will enable them to have a conversation with a medical professional if clutter or disorganisation is affecting their health, or that of a family member or friend.

As the theme of the 2016 conference was "The Power of Letting Go", the workshop included topics like how to let go of stigmas associated with asking for help, by using CBT techniques to feel more confident about being able to ask for help.  Which is why our wise owl is flying the flag for Time To Change England's biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination.

One of the workshop participants - Jo Cooke of Berkshire-based Hoarding Disorders UK - said "I came away very inspired by Cherry’s presentation.  Cherry’s workshop was not only well researched and extremely informative. But Cherry also highlighted the crucial facts relating to the implications, impact and regulations surrounding hoarding disorder.  Cherry speaks with confidence and passion.  I came away with some excellent tips on how to help my clients. Cherry is very inspirational.  I would certain recommend attending this workshop. Excellent."

It was the second year in a row that I'd run a workshop at the two-day conference, where this year's speakers included Carl HonorĂ©, globetrotting ambassador for the Slow Movement Canadian organising guru Colette RobicheauGwendoline Alderton from GA Interiors (UK) who talked about Style for Sale like a Professional, and Keren Lerner from Top Left Design who explained How to Create a Killer Website.

For more information about the clutter and health workshop or to book Cherry to run this workshop for your group, please contact: cherry@rainbowred.co.uk or phone 07931 303310.

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Cherry Rudge of Surrey-based Rainbow Red is the daughter of a hoarder, so has had personal experience not only of the day-to-day physical, psychological and emotional trials and tribulations faced by families affected by living with too much stuff, but also the sensitivities required to calmly help people declutter and create order out of chaos. 



She is a pioneering member of apdo-uk’s Hoarding Advisory Team, and a member of The Chief Fire Officers Association’s (CFOA) Mental Health & Hoarding Working Group (which organised the first ever UK Hoarding Awareness Week in May 2014).

In addition to 1-2-1 sessions with hoarders and those affected by chronic disorganisation, she offers training and advocacy services and is an advisor to organisations including media production companies, Surrey Fire & Rescue Service, ADHD Support Groups and social landlords.

Originally published in March 2016 - updated in June 2016