A Qualitative Study into the Experiences of People with Hoarding Issues Using the ‘Making Space’ Support Group and/or Home Visit Service

A Qualitative Study into the Experiences of People with Hoarding Issues Using the ‘Making Space’ Support Group and/or Home Visit Service Poster

Quotes from Support Group July 2023

Author: Dominique Duff, School of Psychology, University of Bristol – Summer 2023

Members of the Making Space support group were interviewed as part of this research.

Here’s a selection of their feedback:

On the support group:

“It’s empowerment, it’s community building. In recovery, you talk about passing on what I’m passing on the gift I’ve been given” (referring to a sponsorship program)

“it stops me from just giving up which I think I’ve got great desire somewhere to just give up on everything,”

“And it does make me assess my own hoarding, and barriers to getting rid of stuff, or just keep it because it might be useful…I think it’s serving a purpose from that point of view.”

“And it’s been great to have that because the fact that I know I’m going back to a group makes me think right I do do some shredding today”

“this going to the group and having in the book. It is the first time that I’ve actually been able to keep facing the problem”

“It’s that amazing power of a group”

“I come into the support group. I’m no longer special and different. And I’ve got other people who can relate and empathise and identify with the kinds of struggles that I experience normalise it, and also laugh and joke about it. So if I say,  so I’m sorry, I’m late. I haven’t had an avalanche and couldn’t open the door. People laugh because they know what it’s like. So there’s a process of identification.”

“The group makes me feel less overwhelmed. And more able to take action.”

“a completely constructive space. Because we have a shared a lived experience.”

“And one of the things that the group is interpreting a different emotion, but taking my negative emotion of shame and guilt and sense of overwhelm, and I can’t, and I’m stuck and hopelessness and taking the same view of the lounge and the kitchen and the bungalow and going, and I’m okay with this, because it’s a disorder, this is a mental health problem. If I accept it’s an illness, then I have the possibility of getting well. And then that possibility of getting well it’s the possibility of change. And in that possibility of change comes from possibility of asking for and receiving help.”

“the stories are often very engaging and whatever, but I’ve not always felt that they are taking the group forward.” (on the check-ins at the beginning)

“The volunteers are lovely”

“found them [the facilitators] very interesting and very compassionate people like in comparison to watch, you know, these programmes, do the hoarding programmes. “

“I feel safe in that group.I think because the leaders provide that safe situation and they work together, you can tell that they’re coming from the same place.”

On the 1:1 home visits:

“The amount of stuff that’s gone out is amazing, really, every week. More stuff goes out. It’s getting down to a much more manageable proportion”

“I thought somebody cared”

“They were so kind about it, I never felt abandoned.”

“Sometimes it amazes me how much of that stuff we managed to clear out each time they come to be honest”

“But you know, I thought, well, there’s a long way to go in my, in my own decluttering journey. But I also just kind of wondering, when the space is made, what does it mean? So I would like I would like some kind of other I’d like another branch of how does one maintain the free space that one makes”

“I’m just wondering if it would be good as any other like, you know, services if they should be going at the same time, because I think the decluttering itself is something very different to talking about the decluttering” (offering counselling alongside the 1:1 visits)

“But I didn’t feel like I had to do anything. So it was a when I ever threw something out when ever anything left. I felt like it was my decision. And I’m trying to think if there’s anything that I’ve ever thrown away that I regretted that, because yeah, not, not with, not with making space”

“I was never forced to do anything. I mean, sometimes I was gently encouraged. And that would work. Sometimes, you know, we’d have a cup of tea. And then she’d say, well, we’ve got x y z on the list, you want to maybe have a go at this, like a small thing. And sometimes I would, you know, other times, I’d say that I can’t today. And that would be fine as well, you know?”

“They’d just put out what they what they feel is appropriate and they take they take notice of what I say as well. If I’m uncertain about something or I’m unhappy about something I say and they follow what I say. They never, they never. They never abrupt or they’re always very, very, very, very helpful and approachable.”

“[the volunteer] we really developed a good relationship. I felt like, I wasn’t being treated like a patient. Or like I had an illness or something she was, you know, we genuinely used to get on and chat about other things. And that sort of felt that made me feel like we were you know, not like I was in charge, but we were sort of doing it together.Rather than her coming to sort of fix me. So you know, it felt very respectful.”

“I felt like I was blessed.”

“And I learned skills from them that you know, and I feel empowered, so that I could do more of this work myself now, you know, they’ve definitely, yes, that’s their legacy they’ve left with me”

“I’m also benefiting from my very, very, very wonderful [volunteer]. Everyone should have a [volunteer].”