Ice-Breaker: Noun

a ship designed for breaking a channel through ice; a thing that serves to relieve inhibitions or tension between people.

Many individuals living with lots of possessions or a disorganised home feel too embarrassed or stigmatised to talk about how it’s affecting them, or don’t know anyone they feel they can trust to discuss it with.

It can become such a problem that their homes become dysfunctional (eg. without heating or hot water, or limited/no access to a toilet) or unsafe, and result in them having an accident, being affected by infestations (eg. mice, bed bugs, etc) or even being unable to live in their homes because of the risk to themselves or others.

The aim of the Hoarding Ice-Breaker Form is to empower people whose health, wellbeing or safety has been adversely affected by hoarding, clutter, disorganisation or compulsive shopping/acquiring to start a conversation with their GP (or other medical professional).

That professional should then ask lots of questions which should enable them to identify medical conditions which could possibly be affecting them, and start the ball rolling to get a diagnosis, treatment and professional help and support.

The Ice-Breaker Form is easy to use it – all you have to do is:

  • click on the relevant language version to download it (also available via our Facebook page and various other websites)
  • print it out
  • fill it in
  • give it to your GP or other medical professional (or even your social worker or landlord)

There is information on the form for Medical Professionals, which will help them learn more about hoarding and some of the related medical conditions and factors that can result in hoarding behaviours or accumulating lots of possessions.

Please contact us if you’d like to offer to translate the Ice-Breaker Form into another language.

We’d especially love to have it available in Braille!


The original Ice-Breaker Form was inspired by 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.

The Hoarding Ice-Breaker Form was officially launched at HoardingUK’s National Hoarding Conference in London in May 2018, and – thanks to esteemed colleagues from around the World – has since gone on to be translated from English into Dutch and Spanish, with Portuguese pending.

It was devised because of the author’s personal experiences of growing up with a father who had hoarding tendencies. His controlling behaviours affected her mental health, and she wished she’d had someone empathetic to talk to about it – especially as a teenager when her relationship with her Dad deteriorated.

Later in life her father developed Dementia, and when her Mum died she had to put her life on hold to become his primary carer. The strain affected her health and wellbeing, and her ability to work full-time. It took her two years to get his paperwork in order so that Lasting Power of Attorney could be put in place, and then two years for her and her family to clear the property after he’d died.

About the Author

Cherry Rudge founded the Professional Decluttering & Organising business Rainbow Red in 2011, and went on to become the Marketing, PR & Partnerships Officer and eventually Acting President of The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers (APDO) – positions that she stepped down from when her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014.

She is a Member of 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 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 a Dementia Friend, a Trustee of the Fastminds ADHD Support Group in Kingston-upon-Thames, 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”)

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