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Thursday 25 April 2013

New self-help hoarder support group - Leatherhead

Mental health services at The Mary Frances Trust and Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust have teamed up to launch a new self-help group for compulsive hoarders and their carers.

For the first time in Surrey, specific support will be available for people to talk about their experiences and difficulties of hoarding, to share ideas about coping with their condition and to learn about treatments.

Patrick Wolter, Chief Executive of local mental health charity Mary Frances Trust, said: “Hoarding is a complex disorder which has been hidden for many years. Since the 1990s the interest has increased and the recent media coverage of hoarding has also increased awareness and interest among sufferers and family members. However, it is still very often not recognised. Hoarding can be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) but recent research show that in many cases hoarding appears to be independent from any neurological or mental health disorders, including OCD. Hence many people remain undiagnosed and do not receive appropriate support.”

Sophie Holmes, Consultant Clinical Psychologist with the Mole Valley Community Mental Health Recovery Service, said. “People often tell us there is still a stigma attached to mental health problems and sadly this is all-to-often true for people who hoard as well. Hoarding can be very debilitating but people can avoid seeking help out of embarrassment and a fear of being judged or simply because they feel overwhelmed.
Coming to terms with having a mental health problem is never easy, so we’ve set up this self-help support group to show people that support is out there and that they’re not alone. In fact the condition is actually more common than many people think. Working in partnership with the Mary Frances Trust allows us to apply our expertise to train volunteers to reach-out to far more people than those referred to our NHS services.”
The group will be facilitated by Patrick Wolter, Sophie Holmes, and Andy Honey, a local carer who has become an expert by experience and is volunteering to help others living with the condition.

Andy became known locally for helping Westcott resident and compulsive hoarder Richard Wallace to clear his home last year. His emerging role as a carer was featured in a two-part documentary for Channel Four, entitled Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder, which also followed Richard’s treatment with Sophie and the Mole Valley mental health team.

Andy Honey said “I know from experience that people do benefit from meeting others in the same situation. I’m very excited as we’ve got a really good balance of psychological, practical, & Mary Frances Trust support to run the group. This will be so beneficial as we will be able to cover all aspects for people who hoard, and their relatives, carers & friends.”

The Hoarding Self Help Support group meets for the first time on Thursday 9th May at 7pm-9pm  at the Mary Frances Trust’s headquarters (The Leatherhead Clubhouse, 23 The Crescent, Leatherhead, KT22 8DY). The group will then meet there at the same time on second Thursday of each month.

For further details and to express your interest in attending the group please call the Mary Frances Trust on 01372 375 400 or email

Alternatively, if you live in or around the Leatherhead area and would prefer not to attend a self-help group to discuss problems you may have with clutter, hoarding or organising your home, you may prefer instead to get practical, non-judgemental, motivational help or advice from local professional organiser Cherry Rudge of Rainbow Red, based in Walton-on-Thames. 

Cherry Rudge is a Member of The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers UK (, and is herself the daughter of a hoarder, so has first hand experience of how difficult life can become with too much stuff taking over a home. 
To find out what her hoarder clients have said about how their experiences of working with a professional organiser and how it's changed their lives, take a look at the hoarding pages of Rainbow Red's blog.
Call 07931 303310 or email to find out how to create a home where you can live life rather than be snowed under by it.