Saturday, 20 May 2017

"Understanding Hoarding" - by Jo Cooke

"Understanding Hoarding" by Jo Cooke is the first book of its kind in the UK that''s been written by a British author (most of the other books about hoarding have originated in the US).

If, like me, your life has been touched or changed by hoarding behaviours and you'd like to understand more about it, then I encourage you to invest in this book - it's been compared to the international works of Steketee, Frost et al, all of whom are experts and published authors on the subject.

Jos' book is easy to read, sensitively written, empathetic and practical, and includes contributions and case studies from hoarders themselves, families of hoarders, professional practitioners, the Fire & Rescue Service and others.

Jo Cooke of
Hoarding Disorders UK CIC
Jo's insight into the world of hoarding comes as a result of being the daughter of a hoarder - as am I.  

It lead her to eventually set up a specialist social enterprise called Hoarding Disorders UK CIC (Community Interest Company) based in Newbury, Berkshire, as well as two (currently) hoarding support groups.

I hadn't read the book prior to it being launched, and have been absolutely delighted by it - it really does live up to one of the reviews on Amazon, written within only two days of the book being published:



"The definitive book on understanding hoarding.   It is both an easy read and beautifully written. It will become the bible for people affected by hoarding. Hoarders themselves, families of hoarders, and people that come into contact with hoarders such as social workers, housing officers, the fire services and many others.

As well as addressing what is hoarding and why people hoard it gives good advice on decluttering and sustainability.

Jo writes in an easy style with a great deal of commonsense, knowledge and passion.Everything you need to know is in this book, the complete guide."  

Very sadly many children of hoarders fall out with their parents; the stuff can tear resentful families apart.

I wish it had been available as I was growing up, so that I could have learned what might be behind my controlling father's habits.  It would have given me the knowledge to look beyond the stuff and work towards developing a stronger and more emotionally rewarding relationship with him. 

In later life he developed Alzheimer's, which made caring for him (and then clearing out his house once he'd died) a time consuming, financially draining and emotional roller coaster of a journey.

Jo very kindly invited me to contribute to "Understanding Hoarding", and has even credited me in the acknowledgement at the beginning, for which I'm truly grateful!  

So I must thank some very special people, without whom my contributions to the book would not have been possible.

Firstly, my client Peter - for allowing me to tell his story.  Next, Sheena Crankson and Felix Pring of FAST Minds ADHD Support Group in Kingston-upon-Thames - for their support in helping me create the diagram (below) for the book.  

It's designed to give people an insight into the thought processes of the ADHD Brain in the context of organising, clutter, disorganisation and hoarding, and has been well received by people with ADHD.

The day after "Understanding Hoarding" was published, a lady who has the condition (as do members of her family) asked if it would be OK to take it to school to show the teachers, to help them understand how difficult and debilitating it can be to have ADHD/ADD.

Members of my local ADHD support group were very excited to see the difficulties they have with clutter and disorganisation shown in picture form (because pictures paint a thousand words).

Heather Matuozzo of Clouds End CIC (founder of the first social enterprise in England specialising in hoarding behaviours) has been a great mentor and friend on my personal and professional development journey, and has also made an invaluable contribution to Jo's book.

And finally, I must thank my late parents - without whom I would not be writing this blog now.

I will always be grateful to Jo Cooke for allowing me to contribute to her wonderful book, and for empowering readers to look at their possessions, other people's possessions and other people's lives differently.  

Because hoarding isn't about the stuff, it's about the people.

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