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Jo Prestidge, Head of National Practice Development reflects on our 'Going Beyond' podcast episode on hoarding with P3 charity.

Over the years, I’ve occasionally been contacted by Homeless Link’s members asking whether there is any good practice around supporting people who hoard.

But whilst hoarding is something homelessness workers often have to deal with, we were not aware of any tried and tested interventions that had been developed in the sector. Until now.

On my way into the office recently, I caught up on an episode of Going Beyond; our homelessness practice podcast developed specifically for people working in the sector.

Focussed on hoarding, episode 3 features Hannah and Fraser from P3, a homelessness charity working across UK. The episode draws on their experience of providing hoarding services in Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire.

They share information about the services that have been developed to work with people who are at risk of harm, including losing their homes, because of hoarding behaviours. Teams of ‘Home Coaches’ offer intensive and long-term support to people referred by other agencies, such as housing associations and adult social care.

There are a number of reasons why someone may hoard: grief, poor mental or physical health, trauma and abuse, brain injury and neurodivergance. Taking a person-centred, and holistic approach to working with those affected is essential.

In the podcast, we hear how hoarding can be a very personalised way of dealing with trauma. For some, the acquiring and keeping of items is a safety blanket. A coping mechanism. Taking this away without careful work can cause significant distress.

P3’s Home Coaches take time to build relationships with those they support and understand what is important to each individual: from the possessions they own to the goals they have for their lives. They recognise personal choice and work slowly to help people begin making change.

What surprised me in the episode was hearing how prevalent hoarding is. An estimated 2-5% of the population hoard. This means there are potentially a significant number of people who are at risk of homelessness as a result of their hoarding.

In fact, Hannah and Fraser highlight the expense caused to agencies in responding to hoarding. Evictions are costly, and so are the repairs needed to properties damaged by fire. It could be argued that this money would be better spent if directed into bespoke support provision instead.

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Jo Prestidge

Head of National Practice Development

Jo is Head of National Practice Development at Homeless Link.