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Friday, 16 November 2018

Professional Hoarding Practitioner Training

I'm proud to be collaborating with my friends and colleagues Heather Matuozzo of Clouds End CIC and Jo Cooke of Hoarding Disorders UK CIC to develop the next generation of Professional Hoarding Practitioners.

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.
Forthcoming Dates
Level 1
- 28 March 2019 (London)
- 27 June 2019 (London)
- 26 September 2019 (London)
- 12 December 2019 (London)

Level 2 

- 30th November 2018 (London) 
- 29 March 2019 (London)
- 27 September 2019 (London)
- 13 December 2019 (London)

There will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions and share knowledge and experiences – please help us make the day as interactive as possible.


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

Testimonials - Here's what people have said about our Level 1 training
"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

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 - No requirements. 

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.


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.   




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!'"

Professional Hoarding Practitioner Training - Level 1 (July 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

"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." 
"The info day at Reigate was just great. So informative and interesting. 
I'm so glad I managed to get there."   
"Thanks Heather and Cherry - found it very useful, not least as it really brought home what working with hoarders might involve."

“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

Text message from client with mental health problems
I'm still soooo thrilled with my office!  When you think what it was like when you and I started and how far we've come in that two years! Thank you sooo much for making it possible!
Anonymous, Surrey

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

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 herself 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!"

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

"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