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HISTORY OF THE HOARDING ICE-BREAKER FORM

The idea of an icebreaker form for people affected by clutter, disorganisation and hoarding behaviours came about in 2017 when Professional Hoarding Practitioner Cherry Rudge (founder of Rainbow Red – Decluttering, Organising & Project Management Services) came across a similar form created by the charity OCD UK, which empowered people to start a conversation with their GP if they thought they might have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Cherry recognised the need for something similar, because:

  1. The massive stigma and embarrassment about living with clutter, disorganisation or hoarding behaviours often prevents people from seeking medical treatment to improve their health and wellbeing, or allowing people into their home. Consequently, they may be living in unsafe or unhygienic conditions, or self-neglecting – something she’d witnessed too many times….
  2. Many of her clients with mental health issues were taking medication that wasn’t helping to improve their ability to cope with things like planning, organising, making decisions, multi-tasking, starting/finishing tasks, managing time, managing emotions, etc – difficulties that are commonly related to having Neurological conditions such as ADHD, Autism, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, etc.
  3. Many of her clients exhibited symptoms of Neurological conditions, and didn’t know they might have them.
  4. Many of her clients with complex needs and hoarding behaviours had experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) or traumas as an adult, and had received diagnoses of a Personality Disorder without receiving appropriate treatment for trauma.
  5. Many of her clients who lack confidence in social situations have no family , friends or trusted people they could turn to for advice, help or support, or wouldn’t know what to say or who to say it to even if the did pluck up the courage to speak to their GP.

So, the Hoarding Ice-Breaker Form was born. It was first published in 2017, and officially launched in May 2018 at the National Hoarding Conference in London (which was organised by the charity HoardingUK).

The form now has its own dedicated website, Facebook page (with over 500 followers) and Twitter account (@HoardingIce), and been translated from English into Dutch and Spanish (with various other languages pending).

So far it has been viewed online over 4,800 times by people from 50 countries around the World, and downloaded over 950 times.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cherry’s late father had hoarding behaviours, so she has lived experiences of growing up in a stressful home with too much stuff and a controlling parent.

It wasn’t until Cherry studied to become a Professional Organiser that she realised what might have caused her father’s hoarding and controlling behaviours (he was probably on the Autism Spectrum and had experienced ACEs as a child during WW2), but she didn’t understand it when she was younger, and it lead to her having mental health problems, a difficult relationship with her Dad and relationship issues with partners too.

It’s a familiar story that she hears about a lot from family members affected by a relative’s hoarding behaviours. She can also understand the anxiety grown-up children have about creating a safe home for loved ones if they’ve been in hospital, have Dementia (which is what she had to do for her Dad), or when they have to clear the family home of 50 years worth of clutter when the person dies.

It’s no accident that Cherry is a Dementia Friend, a Member of the National Fire Chief’s Council’s Hoarding Working Group (formerly known as the Chief Fire Officers Association’s Hoarding Working Group), and helped organised the first ever UK Hoarding Awareness Week in 2014 which was launched by CFOA at the Houses of Parliament in London.

UK Hoarding Awareness Week 2014 launch at the Houses of Parliament in London:
Left to right: Heather Matuozzo of Clouds End CIC; Vasoulla Savvidou; Richard Wallace; Cherry Rudge of Rainbow Red (and Author of the Hoarding Ice-Breaker Form) and Andy Honey of Clouds End CIC

Cherry is also a Trustee of the Fastminds ADHD Support Group in Kingston-upon-Thames, a Member of the Surrey Multi-Agency Hoarding Taskforce, and is proud to be training the next generation of Professional Hoarding Practitioners, in association with leading UK hoarding experts Heather Matuozzo of Clouds End CIC, and Jo Cooke of Hoarding Disorders UK CIC (and author of the acclaimed book “Understanding Hoarding” – which Cherry also contributed to).

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