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Britain's Biggest Hoarders: Lifting the stigma for mum

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Jasmine Harman Jasmine Harman | 09:52 UK time, Tuesday, 8 May 2012

After the amazing response to My Hoarder Mum & Me, the filming of which was mostly brought about through desperation, we have now filmed a follow up - Britain's Biggest Hoarders.

Before the first documentary my mum's house had become so full of clutter that she couldn't get through the front door without a struggle.

Vasoulla Savvidou and Jasmine Harman at Vasoulla's home

Jasmine Harman with her mum Vasoulla Savvidou at Vasoulla's home

She was sleeping on a scrap of floor in the hall as each of her five bedrooms were inaccessible.

Yet she was not still unable to face letting any of her possessions go, nor could she seem to resist the temptation to accumulate more and more stuff.

I think mum wanted to show other hoarders and their families that they were not lost causes and I wanted to continue the work we'd started, both in the house and raising awareness.

For years we all thought mum was just messy, lazy and reckless with money.

When my youngest brother (then aged 11) was removed from her home when his school insisted that it was not a suitable environment for a child, instead of motivating her to 'tidy up' things got even worse.

Although she desperately wanted him back she was paralysed and received little support from social services or the NHS.

Mum was just supposed to get on with clearing out the house on her own!

In my opinion this would be the same as telling an anorexic to just start eating, or an alcoholic to just stop drinking. It's not as easy as that.

I have to say it has been a huge relief for me not to have to hide this 'shameful' secret anymore.

Even the few people I had told about my mum's house didn't really get it and would make comments which clearly demonstrated their lack of understanding such as "I know what you mean, I'm a complete hoarder too! I've got a whole box full of magazines that I can't throw away!"

Hold on a sec, my mum will show you how to be a proper hoarder!

I really hope that through this documentary I have helped my mum and Alan and Richard, who as you'll see in the programme also struggle with too much stuff.

Alan and Marion Burgess outside their home with Jasmine

Alan and Marion Burgess outside their home with Jasmine

When I first arrived at Alan's house I saw the 5 ft high sea of clutter that filled the front garden and I could see the front door, but was left wondering how on earth I'd reach it.

Then I spotted a tiny gap which was the narrow pathway to the house.

Inside books, videos, ornaments, clothes, boxes and other items were stacked floor to ceiling, meaning the only place his wife Marion had to sit down and eat her dinner was on the toilet.


They sleep on half of a double bed as the other half (and the rest of the room) is covered with Alan's belongings and they are forced to visit friends in order to shower as their bathroom is bursting at the seams.

Alan and Richard each have different views of their hoarding.

Whilst Alan feels everything is useful and will only let perished items go, Richard sees that much of what he holds onto is rubbish but still struggles to part with anything.

He has the need to check everything which is frequently the case with hoarders.

One thing they had in common with my mum is that a crisis brought about the need to tackle the hoarding.

For Richard it was his health. When we filmed with him he had just come out of hospital suffering with chest and circulation problems, probably not helped by the fact his house was full of dust, spores and was freezing cold!

Jasmine Harman and Richard Pout at Richard's home

Jasmine and Richard Pout at Richard's home

Alan's house is an eyesore and I understand that neighbours' rights must be considered. But I'd like to see local authorities offering help or support for people with his problem.

Instead the course of action Alan's council took was to threaten to prosecute him for the second time.

I feel there are other ways of going about it.

I hope the programme has gone some way to removing the stigma attached to hoarding.

Yes it's messy. Yes it's smelly and unpleasant. But people who make rude comments are the ones who should be ashamed of themselves.

After all you wouldn't laugh at someone who had any other type of illness!

I hope now many hoarders will find the courage to come forward and ask for help and I have set up a website which offers online support and resources.

Hopefully the medical profession will soon give full recognition to Hoarding Disorder and I feel proud of my mum for having been one of the first people in the country to stand up and tell all about the challenges she faces every day.

I think she has been incredibly brave and we've become closer than ever as a result of the documentary.

Crucially I now understand some of the reasons behind her hoarding and we even can have a laugh about it!

UPDATE 3 August 2012: If you are interested in being part of BBC One's follow up series to Britain's Biggest Hoarders, please see Jasmine's new post on the BBC TV blog for details.

Jasmine Harman is the presenter of Britain's Biggest Hoarders.

Britain's Biggest Hoarders is on Tuesday, 8 May at 9pm on BBC One and BBC One HD.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Brilliant, congratulations to all involved

  • Comment number 2.

    Having watched this programme and a number of others recently, I found this one the most insightful. I come from a family of hoarders and understand how this affects people. I have found it's not necessarily about possessions it's about control and objects are easy to control when you may not have that in other elements of your life. The irony of this is that in a very short while, the things you keep end up controlling you. I urge anyone who recognises these traits in their friends and family members to seek help at the earliest stages and not to wait until the resistance of the hoarder becomes painful for hoarder and those around them.

  • Comment number 3.

    My nans house is quite like the ones viewed in tonight's program. They have a 5 bedroom detached house full to the brim, a half acre garden full to the brim and cars and caravans again full up with clutter. Jasmine, if you need new material for another episode i would happily help you!!

  • Comment number 4.

    Wasn't going to watch this program but I'm glad I did and I really wish all the people shown success. My brother was a hoarder and he eventually died through self neglect and the appalling conditions he lived in. He was only 50. Equally hard for the families of hoarder.

  • Comment number 5.

    Thank you for an enlightening, enjoyable and very watchable program. I would like to wish your mum, alan and marion, and richard luck and all the help they need to tackle their hoarding. I look forward to seeing your sequel.

  • Comment number 6.

    I was so impressed by this programme. It is rare to see such genuine empathy for people with real and devastating problems. Jasmine's presentation was heartfelt as her concern for her mum's condition was so apparent. I think she was incredibly brave to lay out such personal issues for the nation to see. I hope that these comments can be passed on to her. I thought she did an incredible job on the programme and I wish her personally very genuine good wishes for her and her mum's future and the future of the other people in the programme.

  • Comment number 7.

    Excellent programme - one of the most sensitive & insightful treatments of this difficult topic. Less voyeuristic than other TV representations of compulsive hoarding. As an environmental health officer with 20 years experience of dealing with similar cases it struck a real chord with me. Nice balance between dealing with the frustrating behaviours of suffers with insight into the cognitive process underlying Diogenes Syndrome. I'd like to make contact with other professionals who have successfully used Cognitive Behaviour Therapy techniques to help compulsive hoarders.

  • Comment number 8.

    Jasmine, I did not see your original documentary,and I must be honest I only came about tonight's programme by chance - but so glad I did. You say how brave your mum is - but I think you should also recognise just how brave you yourself have been in speaking out about something that must've been incredibly difficult for you to grow up and live with. So nice to see that you have a good relationship with your mum, and that you are not ashamed of the difficulties that your she faces. Thank you for a very interesting and moving programme, x

  • Comment number 9.

    I find this programme so interesting. It's easy to mock the hoarders but clearly they are suffering deeply at the thought of clearing their homes of their desperately 'needed' possessions.

    Jasmine is wonderfully personable and seeing her with her mum and interacting with the other hoarders in a non-judgemental way is very heart warming. I wish them all well.

  • Comment number 10.

    Thank you so much for making this programme. Jasmin must be so proud of her Mum. Her comment about finally having a home has struck a chord with me. My 2 children have never stayed at their Grandma's house because she and my eldest brother who still lives with her....are hoarders. It has got so bad that there is only one chair available to sit in downstairs. My eldest child is 12....but the problem goes back much further than that. I have never really been able to happily take partners to my "home" to see where I grew up as it's been so bad for such a long time. I think the problem is compounded by having 2 hoarders living together. Thank yOu for making me realise that I'm not alone....or that my family are freaks and that there is help to be had.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Jasmine.
    Your programme was really interesting and really struck a chord. We have a house clearance business down here on the south coast, and work for local estate agents and solicitors. Although most of the properties we clear pale in comparison to your extreme examples, one that we did eighteen months or so, compared very much to Alan Burgess's house. This was on the behest of the family and it turned out that the deceased relative had been a local Liberal Democrat Councillor, who had for years run on the green and recycling ticket ! Several tons of newspaper and glass bottles from the loft and attics (a lovely flammable combination), several tons of metal from the garden (including several cars) dozens of bags of clothing etc etc later, a house that had not really be seen properly for twenty years, came back into view. A very worthwhile and satisfying job, but it begged the question as to how the chap had not received more help whilst he was there. Glad to see that your mom's problem, seems to be improving. Vance Whittall

  • Comment number 12.

    Most of the hoarding cases I have dealt with involve individuals who seem to be reacting adversely to an emotionally traumatic personal loss e.g. bereavement or relationship breakdown. Anyone else share this view?

  • Comment number 13.

    I would like to help aswell..

  • Comment number 14.

    I am a daughter of a hoarder and suffered all my life because of my mothers reluctance to acknowledge her actions and the house that was always suffocating us all . It is only due to her have alzheimers over that last 10-12 years that with the help of social workers supporting me that slowly we cleared the house so she could be cared for at home . As the rooms were cleared and upset as it was done , she forgot and life became much happier , although all my life I have taken the blame for it all , after a house fire last year ( thank fully mother was at day care ) , the house was gutted , all her items were packed and went into store , over 400+ boxes , these were returned in Oct , and this thurs 201 boxes go to auction . Mum is now in full time care and in the best place she can be, she has no memories of her time at her marital home , but to be honest it is like that life has been erased now , sadly not for me . I have had to understand and put to bed her actions , and her hoarding goes back to childhood being ill as a teenager and coming back from resting to find that her mum and older sister has given her books and toys away . It was an issue when i was born late 60's ( 2nd child ) and then having a third child late 70's which she was ill and couldnt cope ......writing this makes me angry as i have never had a proper family and wish this could have been sorted many years ago ....seeing these programmes is overwhelming how they all move things around from one place to the next pile ! I am hoping I can bury this stage soon as I hope to rent her house out to now pay for her care ...what is sad is that she has only a few bits around her in her new room at the care home , but she is clean and happy ....how sad that is how we may eventually all end up .....

  • Comment number 15.

    I have just watched this programme and found it very sad that these people struggle so hard to let go of things that, to most people, is rubbish. I think it's lovely that there are people out there that are dedicated to helping such individuals and it is clear to me that we should not scoff at their unfortunate dilemma but have compassion for them. I wish them all a happy, healthy and clutter free mind, soul and house!

  • Comment number 16.

    Jasmine you are truly amazing with your patience and empathy for your mum and all the others that you have helped. It is obvious they would not have been able to do it without people like you. Well done for educating the world a bit more on this subject maybe more people will feel able to get help for themselves or their familes. Well done x

  • Comment number 17.

    I didn't see your previous programme on this subject, but this was so touching and really moved me. It has really made me think. It's frightenend me as I think I could have those hoarding traits....all those old birthday cards have to go, and that's just the start!
    Thank you Jasmine

  • Comment number 18.

    Great! Informative, compassionate and so very well presented.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    The interesting thing about tonight's programme and the current Channel 4 series is that the hoarders featured all have a deep trauma lurking in their psyche. Whilst it is good to know that change is possible, the contributors are taking an amazing 1st step by letting strangers/ camera crews into their home.

    There is no way my late mother would have let anyone other than me into her home to see the mess, let alone spoken to a psychologist or counsellor to work through her issues , and certainly not a tv crew.

    These programmes are comforting because I now know my mother wasn't the only one out there, however there is still very little support for people like her, and for families who have tried everything. Unlike the people featured tonight, I doubt my mother would have changed.

  • Comment number 21.

    I am lucky enough to never have had to deal with such a difficult situation; however watching Jasmine's kind, thoughtful and gentle way she dealt with her Mum's hoarding and how she was so understanding of both the sufferer and their loved ones left me feeling how perfect she was to present a programme about hoarding. I have only watched Jasmine present overseas holiday home programmes but she has clearly stepped out of "daytime telly" with this programme.

    I do hope that due to her opening up this probably up until now taboo subject, that help is given to sufferers and their families.

  • Comment number 22.

    What a fantastic insight. Wondering what response you would have had if you were able to show the 'other hoarders' their homes. Perhaps inadvertently, they may eventually be able to help one another? Thanks for lifting the lid.

  • Comment number 23.

    Well done to your Mum, Jasmine and of course yourself for such a good documentary. My sister is a hoarder and had massive implications in the care of our 92 year old mother, (now deceased). I worked for Social Services and knew the system, but I reported my sister to S.S. as my mother I felt was a 'vulberable adult' in her care. These decisions were not taken lightly, even after attempting to de-clutter of 3 occaisions. With 80 black bin liners later, 8 skips, lots of tears and coping with vermin and crawling things, two years out of date food etc. etc. etc. My sister is still a hoarder, but can at least talk about it. It's true people do not understand the concept of intelligent people living in such conditions. Thankyou for bringing it in the public eye.

  • Comment number 24.

    sorry Jasmine thank you for being sensitive to this subject , I am sure that it has affected you over the years along with your family supporting your mum . at least your mum wanted to acknowledge it ...good luck to you all

  • Comment number 25.

    I recognise many of the symptoms and effects of being a hoarder in myself, fantastic programme, thank you.

    I would like to write more now but have a bit of thinking to do about my own lifestyle.

  • Comment number 26.

    Glad I watched this, I didnt appreciate that hoarding could be an illness. Over the years we (the kids) have cleared stuff out of my mum's home, but only after we've had a big argument about the mess. She admits it is too much to think about but will accept a clear out once in a blue moon, but no more than a room at a time. It's almost like she has replaced what was once a house full of kids with a house full of junk. She blames it on not having the energy, and getting old, but this programme has shed some light. Interestingly, when she thinks she's in control of a clear out we ditch more. We shouldn't be getting annoyed but be supportive.

  • Comment number 27.

    To Tom Ost

    I'm sure you are right there.

    To Jasmine

    You are a wonderful person. Wish my teenage sons were as sensitive as you!!

    I would love the opportunity to help people in the way you have.

    Thanks again

    Tracy

  • Comment number 28.

    I don't quite know where to begin to express all that I have felt watching this programme and the peace that has come from feelings about "not being the only one". Thank you so much Jasmine for being so open about your own experiences and helping to expose the problem of hoarding to make it less of a taboo subject and something that can be helped. I lived in a house a lot like the people in this programme; I don't quite know if my mum had the problem or if indeed both my mum and dad did. However, I do now recognise some mild syptoms in myself and I hope I can keep finding the strength and courage to simply let go of silly things that I do not use, just because it seems wasteful in some way. I went through many years of shame and embarassment about the way me and my sister lived at home. Our house was so cluttered and messy we eventually couldn't let tradesman into the house and lived for many years without hot water or heating as a result. Our house started to fall apart around us and it felt impossible to escape from what became our prison. I left home to go to University when I was 18 and had visions of being the knight in shining armour; I was going to get a great job and then pay for everything to get cleaned up and fixed. My plan never materialised, as my mum died suddenly when I was 22; soon after my Dad actually met someone and decided to sell our home to move away with her, to do this he had to clean everything out! Sadly he also died just before the sale on the house completed. The big problem of mess and shame from my childhood had gone but so had my parents. I miss my parents terribly but mostly I regret that the last 10 years of their lives had been burdened with clutter and they missed out on having a comfortable and stress free home. Please to everyone affected by this programme: life is so short and things don't make happy memories; people and experiences always do though.So here's hoping we can all be free from things we don't need; honestly none of us need anywhere near as many things as we are led to believe we need! Thank you again Jasmine and all my best wishes for you, your mum and all your family xxx

  • Comment number 29.

    i would like to get involved and offer my help to these people i work in the recyclng bussines every thing these people keep may be junk or rubbish to some people but every thing which was throun away can be used again and recycled eg the paper plastic books wood plastic bottels plastic bags electrics and more maybe buy offering these people a chance to recycle thair long keept items and turn them in to a profit could talk about this subjet or night would love to know what the skip company done with the things thorn away

  • Comment number 30.

    Well done Jasmine. What an eye-opener. This from an older lady who has kept dresses I made in my teens, my mother's clothes and some belongings still in boxes from her house sold 4 years ago. I have letters to penpals, dolls, cards etc from years ago and have recently started collecting fluffy toys - why? I think that your programme has clicked a switch in my head and I shall start sorting out drawers and cupboards now and will give it all away. You showed so much compassion and understanding and I don't feel as bonkers as I did. Well done !

  • Comment number 31.

    Congratulations and thanks for a thought-provoking, insightful and moving documentary. I hope it goes some way to prompting wider support programmes for sufferers and their families as it certainly has served to highlight key points.

    My heart goes out to people who are struggling with hoarding and my admiration to those who have made a start in tackling their problems, with support.

    Jasmine and her mum are inspirational, and very brave for sharing their personal situation with viewers. They clearly are two very special women.

  • Comment number 32.

    I grew up in a house that resembled a rubbish tip and it had a profoundly negative psychological effect on my life. It made me insecure, shy, depressed, angry, frustrated, socially inadequate, you name it! When my brother and I eventually cleared out my parent's house and garden, it was like a huge emotional weight off our shoulders, a genuinely cathartic experience. Watching the atitude of the hoarders and their reluctance to throw anything out, was infuriating to watch and was like a walk down memory/misery lane for me. Regardless why people hoard, it is extremely selfish and inconsiderate to those who have to share their lives and living conditions.

  • Comment number 33.

    It's not just the hoarder, but my sister lived next door to the one in st Albans, and she and my brother in law had years of unhappiness,and frustration as the council did nothing to help ease the situation.so spare a thought for the neighbours,

  • Comment number 34.

    Wow! Just wanted to add; what great comments from everyone. I hope the exposure will bring more help to people that feel trapped and alone with such issues. Jasmine; I hope you get to read all these wonderful views from people. I saw your programme last year and wanted to convey to you then what a very brave and amazing person I thought you was and how much I admire you for allowing your story to highlight a very real but hidden issue. You really have accomplished so much with these programmes and the love you have for your mum and the love in your family is so abundantly clear and so very inspiring. If I get the chance to help anyone who needs help with their haording issues, I hope I have the courage to give my help as much as you have. xxx

  • Comment number 35.

    I Just watched the programme and found it very interesting, but alarm bells rang when it was suggested hoarding should be seen as a disorder and treated. Firstly i think the title for the show was a bad choice. Many people like to collect things and have hobbies eg songs, books, shoes, plants, jewellery they are often know as hoarders. I've found that the sort of people who are hoarders in general, very interesting and bright people but as focused on the programme anyone who hoards could potentially be seen as having some sort of problem? I think you have to tread carefully with this idea that hoarding is an issue. The word is used in a light hearted way generally and perhaps doesn't give credit to the issues that the people on the show seem to be dealing with. Filling up the house with stuff so you can't function in your daily life and having a large dvd collection or book collection are not the same.

  • Comment number 36.

    I have never commented on a programme before, but I was so moved by this one that I felt compelled to comment.

    I want to thank Jasmine and the BBC for bringing out into the open this illness. My mum's house is just like Jasmine's mum's. I really felt for Jasmine as I feel just the same. Growing up like you had a dirty secret. Never having anyone around. I understand that this is an illness. When I go to my mum's we end up arguing about the amount of stuff. I know it doesn't help...I know that the stuff is just the symptom of the illness and the attachment is the control, the need to feel, in my mum's case that she has possessions since she has experienced loss in the past. I can see it... but mum can't. We talk about it, but she says she has paid a lot of money for the stuff, but when I say we can try and sell it, she gets defensive and fears that we are just trying to steal things from her... The programme demonstrated the frustration that family members feel and the internal struggle of parting with what has become part of them. Where do we go from here? Where can I get help for Mum?

  • Comment number 37.

    A truly fantastic programme. Well done to all involved and especially those poor people who helped to clear up the mess! Well done! Especially the man in the grey t-shirt - he moved so much! What a hottie!! Well done everyone. Superb show!! X

  • Comment number 38.

    I came across this programme by chance tonight and thought gosh that girl is like Jasmine from a "a place in the sun" my favourite programme ever.I was most surprised to discover it really WAS her! Oh well done Jasmine. . your Mum has a beautiful daughter in you.I think you are really terrific and the love you shown these people was outstanding.

  • Comment number 39.

    Great programme, and great timing, as we are going through this with our mum. Whilst living at my mum's it was always cluttered, with the mad rush of tidying the house, when family was coming for dinner. This was mainly to make room not for appearances. Stuff would just be moved out of the way. I was the last one to move out, but did live there for five years with my son, and I hardly invited people over, but once I moved out, the hoarding went out of control. I did initially think like another commenter, that my mum was being lazy. When her mum died, she also a hoarder, my mum tried to take a lot of stuff from my nan's house to hers, with the promise that she would clear her house to make room. This was a big mistake, one I regret. She hasn't had visitors for years, her grandchildren definitely can't visit her, and even this didn't motivate her to clear up. This is when I did some research, and seen previous programmes on hoarders and I realised it is an illness. Also realised that this is happening in other homes. The family have offered to help her clear her house, and she has always said when she is ready, this would culminate into an argument between me and her. She did hire a skip once, and my son went to help her to clear some stuff, but practically all of it went back into the house, with the skip being barely half full. But we are finally turning a corner, and I think we may just be able to do this, and she is on board. We are going to get a skip, but watching this programme tonight has given me ideas as to how to approach the actual throwing. One thing I am going to suggest is we bag everything to throw and place it in the garden, that is one place that is clear. Once we have enough to fill a skip, we will hire it. At least this way, it won't be sitting outside for days, saving some money, and we can fill it before the neighbours do :-). I have seen many programmes about hoarders, but this one was more poignant as Jasmine is going through it, and knows exactly what it's like. I wish all the hoarders on the programme good luck, and hopefully they keep getting the help required. I have yet to suggest to mum that she needs to seek help on her hoarding matter, one step at a time methinks. Sorry for the long post, but I don't really talk about this issue to my friends, and thought I would share my experience.

  • Comment number 40.

    I just wanted today how impressed I was with Jasmine Harman and 'Britain's Biggest Hoarders'.
    I'd watched 'A Place in the Sun' and I'm afraid I had dismissed her as superficial and vain.
    She showed herself to be sensitive, intelligent and incredibly honest and open.
    PLEASE thank her.

  • Comment number 41.

    I can really relate to some of these comments made by others above. I was the oldest of 5 children brought up in a household with my mum as a hoarder. She never accepted she had a problem and we had no help in being able to understand or even have the support to cope with this situation. I am 63 now and it affected all our lives. It is only now watching programmes such as Jasmine's that I wish there had been some better understanding for us growing up. We grew up with a "huge" stigma. I always "joked" that I would find my mum dead on a pile of rubbish - this came true. I cried during the programme watching Jasmine and her mum seeing myself and my mum. Despite the hard family life we had I do so miss my mum. I could write pages as I would imagine could so many others out there. It is so painful. Well done Jasmine xxxx

  • Comment number 42.

    I don't normally do this add comments stuff. I wasn't going to watch this programme - thought it was another of those Grime busters programmes - which I've seen for no more than seconds before switching over. Was flicking channels - and recognised the voice - didn't know from where - so stayed for a few moments - and got quickly drawn in with the brilliant presentation of the people themselves and their families. Took me 20 minutes to workout Jasmin was the Home or Abroad presenter who I thought was just a pretty female estate agent on TV. To learn about such a condition in such a sensitive way about those who are suffering - and to also present those who are therapists working with such people and what they try to achieve was very insightful - and what the families have to go through and the patience and love they have for the person needing to hoard - was a revelation - I couldn't do what they did for their loved ones.

    I've seen houses like those on the programme - lovely houses in good areas - and wondered why the Council didn't just do something - and why were the owners so lazy and lacking in respect for their neighbourhood.

    Now I know. And I guess that there are many who are not in houses - but probably small flats - living in such conditions - just that it's not visible to people on the outside as those on the programme displayed.

    In an odd way the condition affects us all - to a degree - we all find it difficult to let go of things for different reasons. Those of us dealing with elderly relatives - having to downsize in the current economic climate - have had to also tread the path of waiting patiently - and giving control - whilst also setting boundaries as was shown in the programme. It's kind of comforting to know that whilst we do our best - sometimes even those making the programme and family and therapists alike - almost lose it. I feel a bit better now. But I did use rubbish tactics - I explained how much could now be recycled now or given to charity - or resold on e-bay or via freecycle or auctions to people who really would benefit from what they had kept for so many years. I am sitting on a load of stuff in my house I've removed - and in effect am hoarding if for them on the grounds I can sell it when actually it's all pretty worthless but I like them, don't want to put it in the household skip at the Council Centre.

    Well done Jasmin and those who supported her in making this programme.

  • Comment number 43.

    Excellent Programme dealt with empathy and genuine assistance to help those with this condition. I come from a family of hoarders, some worse than others. My oldest 3 brothers hoard the most. One has a house similar to those shown on tonights programme and desperately needs help, another hoards cars, bikes, parts etc...the 4th brother isnt so bad but I can recognise the need for them to feel 'safe' with things around them, the inability for them to throw away things from their childhood when they felt 'safe' and need to feel in control when everything else seems out of control for them. They are quite defensive when anyone 'interferes' or suggests that maybe they should carboot some of it. I believe it stems from childhood when our Mum died. I too have seen a need in them to not want to throw away out of date food etc...if you need any material for another programme then I would dearly love my brothers to get the right help they need. Thank you for bringing this issue to peoples attention Jasmine xxx

  • Comment number 44.

    How refreshing to watch this programme presented by a softly spoken, sympathetic and genuine person who has had first hand experience with the problem. As a viewer I felt a much better understanding of this issue as I have had experience myself in such problems with members of my family. It helped me also to recognise that I have elements of such behaviour. Identifying this has now made me more aware of how better to deal with it. For me I need to know that the item I am parting with is going to be used and not thrown away. That always makes me feel so much better. I simply detest waste as if it is a sin. We live in such a disposable society that it does seem sinful to be so flippant about things that can have a use and serve a purpose to the benefit of someone else.
    I would like to say 'Thank you' to you Jasmine and to your dear mother and the two other people who so bravely agreed to participate in this programme. It was most encouraging by the look of all the other comments I think this was a huge breakthrough in deflating the stigma attached to this not so unusual problem.

  • Comment number 45.

    Just to add....what are the names of the 'Hoarding' experts/clearers and psychologists who were in the show and can they help my brothers....family meeting was a good idea, like you did on the show for Alan. x

  • Comment number 46.

    I found this documentary very moving,and the way jasmine dealt with these difficult situations, as these people have an illness.my husband was a hoarder, but sadly he committed suicide due to depression two years ago.he didnt receive enough help from the nhs,since my loss i have been slowly sorting to gain my home back,i also believe that when your home is cluttered your mind is too.when i managed to clear one room i was exhausted but found it very rewarding.i hope your documentary helps other hoarders out there,im sure it will,because of the sensitive way this was televised

  • Comment number 47.

    Jasmine THANK YOU THANK YOU! for doing this program my sisters and I have really suffered just like you with a hoarder Mum.We did lots of horrendous clearouts over the years,it always got bad again and the problem is only solved now because she has got too old to shop and has had to go into a nursing home.
    We were with you every black bag of the way!! Fortunately non of us seem to have inherited it,but then fear of it makes us diligent about chucking stuff regularly.We have been left with a horror of mess and clutter.One of my sisters always thought mum was lazy but I always thought she was depressed and had a muddly brain.After reading Jessie Scholl's book "Dirty Secret" it shows in there that hoarders have brain changes compared with normal brain scans.It is difficult to cope with them because they are so unreasonable and stubborn and deny there is a problem.There is a website for children of hoarders.

  • Comment number 48.

    I'm not sure who the Richard at no1 is, but my thanks to all of your very kind comments. I had only seen the 'editor's final cut' with Christian Watt and Heather about 10 days ago, and I was a bit shocked at what I saw about myself. I then missed half the broadcast programme tonight (8/5) as I had missed a train at Barking (East London for non locals) so only sat down at 21.25. Er, sorry 9.25, I'm still thinking train times.
    I was willing to do this programme, as despite the deterioration in my own health, I am still a campaigner at heart. But at 5.11am, I digress!

    I hope this programme, and some other programmes on C4, Heather and I watched the first one last week, highlights the fact that there is, in many cases, absolutely NO support for the problem of not being able just to 'get it sorted', for whatever reason. My sister has a similar problem, as do many friends, for whom the 'clutter of life' has overwhelmed them.
    It is important to work out a system to chuck out the rubbish, re-cycle what you can, bottles, cans, PET plastics and paper, but do it in small bagfuls if it is difficult. I use supermarket carrier bags, good re-use as a second journey and use for something all too often just binned into the wastestream.
    Keep looking at this site, as hopefully we'll have another update in the Autumn. If you are engulfed, try and find a sympathetic friend to help.
    Thanks again for all the kind comments, and our moderator has only axed one comment. Makes me keep it clean too ....
    Now some snooze and then time to hassle Boris. I'll refrain from the Olympic Legacy, WHAT legacy?
    RicP
    By the way, this working Dell mini-laptop came out of a neighbour's dustbin! How I coped without e-mail before last June, I don't know. My PC in the programme still in world of Windows 3.1! If you have not got a use for something, give it to an Oxfam-type charity shop!

  • Comment number 49.

    I'd like to say how much I appreciated Jasmine's documentary about hoarding and the way the subject was dealt with by her. She showed so much empathy with the victims of compulsive hoarding that I couldn't her sharing that feeling with her and was moved to tears several times during the programme. I simply wish we had such presenters on French TV. Keep up the excellent work!
    With a lot of affection, which she may hoard. A French viewer from Brittany.

  • Comment number 50.

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  • Comment number 51.

    My father was just like Richard. Bought a big house 40 years ago, and filled the unused rooms with junk. As my sister and I left home, our rooms gradually filled up to. My mother would get really frustrated about having to live in a house with lots of room but no space, but he actually got worse when she died. He kep saying he was just about to get around to clearing up, but it was clear that he was never going to.

    It took us years to tackle this problem. It was difficult to talk to him about it, as he would get defensive and angry, or avoid the subject altogether. However, it was clear that the clutter and his worsening depression were feeding off each other. We realised that we were never going to clear the house if he was actively hostile to the idea, but we did take some little steps. For example, he had piled magazines and junk mail up the staircase to the top floor, and one weekend I cleared it, rescuing two boxes of old family photographs and sending the rest for recycling. In hindsight, I think that helped him realise that most of the stuff he didn't need, and what he did want to keep was so buried that for all intents and purposes it was gone anyway. A few months later, he decided it was time to move, so we discussed the situation with a local estate agent, and came up with a plan.

    Over the next three months, with the help of the friend, we went through every room in the house. We decided early on that there just wasn't enough time to go through everything in detail, so the plan was to extract whatever we could that was of value. Some things were packed for my father's new flat, some more went into storage (strictly rationed), and to friends and relatives. Quite a lot was sold, although it was sobering to realise just how many of his "valuables" had no value at all to anyone but himself, and in the end, not even him. Then, 10 days before completion, I handed the keys to a house clearer, and walked away. He needed a week, and a team of six, to clear what we had left.

    This is what we learnt.
    1. People get into this situation because of something in their heads, and you can't just clear them out without changing what's in their heads somehow. They have to want the situation to change,
    2. No-one in this situation will get out by themselves. In fact, in our case, my father just withdrew and let us get on with it. This required a lot of trust on his part.
    3. Don't underestimate the time, physical effort, emotion and money involved. The costs of the final clearance were more than what we received from selling any stuff we found, and in emotional terms, it is the hardest thing I have ever done.
    4. All if the people shown had what I call a "default keep" attitude, by which I mean they were all hanging on to things because they were sure that they might be needed one day. You need to switch to a "default chuck" mindset, and just retain what you are absolutely sure you need. For example, if you have a pile of towel, realise you only need half a dozen, tops, pick out the best ones, and chuck the rest.

    OK, here's the kicker: My father's house (I still don't think of it as mine in any way, even though I grew up there) was identical to Richard's in last night's programme. Same area, same builder, same layout, even the bannisters and hall floor tiles were the same. I suspect he even had the same original range in the kitchen from when it was built in 1901-02. If Richard thinks he's going to be able to clear his house if he spends hours going through each box of old newspapers, he's still not got it.

    My father is now in a warden assisted flat with just what he needs, is no longer socially isolated and is in much better health all round. And the sale of the house netted him a huge amount of money for the rest of his days. He is now living, rather than merely existing.

  • Comment number 52.

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  • Comment number 53.

    I have never bothered making a comment on a show before (good or bad) but in this case I wanted to say well done! Hoarding is something I have never come across and was therefore watching from an outsider perspective. I would never have thought about it from an 'illness' point of view but clearly those who hoard and those families of hoarders need as much help and support as anyone else dealing with a comparable illness! A very brave, interesting and enlightening show -Thank you

  • Comment number 54.

    Congratulations for this amazing programme. And for the courage to bring some changes in these terrible situations : but it is not only a question of courage and perseverance, but at first a love-story from a daughter to her Mum too.

  • Comment number 55.

    A huge thank you Jasmine for what you have dared showing, for creating awareness and giving some hope to all the people who suffer from this condition in silence and isolation and also hope to their families.

    I hope someone, maybe you, can answer my question.

    My brother is suffering from this condition and two years ago almost died from scurvy (as Richard said, i think, his possessions are more important than his health). But he is French, lives in France and so far no one from the medical profession has wanted to help him. Most doctors haven't even heard of Diogenes Syndrome (name for the condition) and still believe it only affects elderly people. My mum fears he will one day be found dead in his flat. It seems that in England there are expert help for this very specific condition even expert cleaning teams but i have not come across these in France. Would someone know of an expert or organization specializing in this based in France? Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
    And all the best to anyone who has watched the program and been affected by it.

  • Comment number 56.

    A fascinating programme well presented by Jasmine. Hoarders do have a psychological problem and I consider hoarding can be triggered by loss of some sort.It represents their security and a way of coping with this loss. Jasmine said it was not a psychological problem but later admitted it was.I think these people are desperately trying to fill a void inside themselves which paradoxically cannot be filled by hoarding. Jesus had no possesions and preached an anti-hoarding message. "Do not store up things on earth where moths and rust concsume" These people simply need God in their lives.

  • Comment number 57.

    My own Mother had OCD which the family recognised but she was never properly diagnosed or treated and we as a family had to deal with it. When she went into sheltered housin,g I was left to sort out all her treasures or investments as she liked to call them. This like so many other debilitating disorders can be helped but the Government is cutting back on places available for people to complete the Clinical Psychology Doctorate, which is totally absurd. We need more Clinical Psychologists not fewer. It would be far more cost effective to get people help, to get their lives back on track as it is not just the individual who suffers but often the whole family.

  • Comment number 58.

    This was an absolutely fascinating programme, based on a huge amount of honesty and soul baring. I had so much time for those that took part and shared their lives with us. Like Tom I was a practising environmental health practitioner and had to assist probably in the region of 60 individuals through my career. As Jasime highlights this is fairly common and in my judgement increasing.

    My experience involved a range of trust building often over weeks just to get through the door. The fear of intervention and the loss of control coupled with in some case embarassment of the state of the home environment provided a range of barriers to assisting.

    Many practitioners in environmental health are aware of Diogenes syndrome and the very personal and compulsive nature of the disorder.

    I am now an academic with a keen interest in links between mental health and housing, and in developing best practice in public health practice to support those with a range of disorders cope with their housing conditions. I would be really interested in seeing if there are lessons to learn here that can be dissemintated to the environmental health profession so that those exhibiting signs of hoarding can be supported.

    Jasmine I do wonder if there is another programme that looks at mental health and housing per se (personal view is that some of our housing does lead to distress and anxiety and that many of the most vulnerable end up in some of the worst housing)

  • Comment number 59.

    A big thankyou to Jasmine for sharing her family's experience and making a very sensitive and insightful documentary about hoarding. I think it's important to get across the message that there's no "quick fix". I'm the daughter of a hoarder mother, too, and the programme prompted me to write about it on my blog.
    http://bit.ly/ICM7Oq

  • Comment number 60.

    I wondered if some people who hoard have aspergers syndrome?

  • Comment number 61.

    I noted in the programe the service of a van to take a load away was showen. It was note that on the door it stated they were taking the goods away to be placed on E-Bay. But the name on the side of the van was not readable! Can you tell me which company this was as I could use on as well

  • Comment number 62.

    During the program a van was used to take awy rubbish. On the back door it said they were taking this ruddish to be placed on E-Bay for sale. What company was this as I can use one myself.

  • Comment number 63.

    I was interesed in this programme because I have tendencies towards hoarding though fortunately not to the degree of those shown. I am therefore able to relate to them and have a degree of self-knowledge about possible causes, especially in my case.

    I am going to dissent from the general approval of commentators here and some may not like what I say. I do not know why this programme was made and I did not like its methodology. I thought it lightweight and do not know why Jasmine was so present. It could have been called Jasmine and Her Hoarders. It was appropriate to show her situation with her mother but, mostly, she did not have to be floating around with the other participants, intruding, I thought, into their troubles, breaking down on their behalf, and distracting from their plight. In particular the prominence given to her model-girl looks and presence were tactless and tasteless. As usual there were many moments of tears and mawkishness. We know ..... KNOW ..... this is a sad situation. We know it is tragic. We do not need tabloid-style travesties of emotional wetting. It is disrespectful and opportunistic to lay it on so thick. It would have been better to have kept it all pared down to the essence of the situation. Showing more of those admirable specialists who helped clear the houses and talked to the subjects would have been much better - tighter ..... more effective.

    The sections showing talking-sessions were superficial and next to useless as explanation and analysis ..... and what was Jasmine doing sitting in on a family therapy session; hardly professional or of any point.

    There have been several of these hoarder-extraordinaire programmes lately, but none have added much to the one about Mr. Trebus. They are pretty much freak shows. We do not need to see so much and sensationalistic footage of the rubbish. We 'get' the problem. What would help would be a serious programme which seriously attempted to get to the roots of this modern affliction - if it is modern; what's the history? - which could take perhaps three hour-long programmes. Does a tv company have committment to really tackle the problem and do some real good, or will there be more superficial exposure of suffers held up for public gawping amidst their filth and chaos, fronted by a glamour girl who unnecessarily gets in the way.

    Again, this was opportunistic and used the people shown, and made me cross ....... !

    This might seem harsh but I think there was a lack of sensitivity, imagination and drive to produce a valuable programme. We have seen this one before.

  • Comment number 64.

    This was an excellent programme. It gave a real insight into hoarding behaviour and the difficulties faced by the people involved and their families. I do, however, believe that the therapists shown made things harder for themselves and their clients by not fully addressing the beliefs and values of the three individuals they were working with

  • Comment number 65.

    My parents are hoarders which means the grandchildren have to have very limited visits because it is too dangerous and distressing. If anyone knows of anyway we could help them I would be really interested.

  • Comment number 66.

    Hi everyone

    I am the researcher on the TV blog – thanks for all your comments so far.

    Diana #45 in answer to your question the names of the experts featured on the programme are Prof Paul Salkovskis and Dr Caroline Wells.

    Many thanks

    Eliza Kessler
    BBC TV blog

  • Comment number 67.

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  • Comment number 68.

    Congratulations on an insightful and sensitive programme. Such a relief to see a programme about hoarding that doesn't suggest you can 'cure' the problem by clearing out the house in a matter of a few weeks.

    I help people all over the world declutter and create homes they love and I agree that recovering from hoarding can be compared to recovering from an addiction or an eating disorder. It's an ongoing process.

  • Comment number 69.

    I just wanted to write and say how fantastic is is to get such positive feedback from this show. You may have seen me on the show, I am Marion and Alans daughter. The whole experience has been overwelmingly positive. Jasmine and the other members of the filming crew were so unjudgemental and sensitive, it is sad that some people have viewed this show as opportunistic. It is a shame that the show was restricted to just one hour as so much was filmed that had to end up on the cutting room floor and maybe this cut down view came across as a bit sensationalist.
    We certainly did not undertake this intrusion into our family life lightly (especially Dad) he certainly would have never dreamed of asking for a TV company to come in and help clear his garden! Mum only applied to be on the show through desperation, having nowhere else to turn for help. I had to put aside my own discomfort at advertising my family's problem for all to see, to help my mum and dad, as I believe this show has.
    Having made many unsucessful attempts to clear dads stuff over the years, mum had basically given up trying anything and was waiting and hoping when living became unbearable for dad aswell maybe he would do something!

    I am one of three kids who lived with hoarding in our childhood and even though I have not lived at the St.Albans house since I left for uni when I was 18, I believe that living with it for years as a teenager still effects me to this day with regards to my self esteem and ability to build close relationships with people.
    It is great to see that Jasmine is so close to her mum, and sad that unfortunately I do not have this close relationship with my dad. We get on fine on a superficial level and of course I love him, but I do not think I will ever build a close relationship with him as he finds it even more difficult to build close releationships than I do.
    It is really good that so many children of hoarders have had the courage to write on this blog. I know how hard it is to talk about it and went for years as a teenager, never telling a soul. Just the feeling that you are not alone (as I thought I was for years) is great, and to be able to talk to others who have been or are still in the same situation is really helpful. It would be great if there was a support group for hoarder family members, does anyone know of one?

    On a slightly different note, one blogger wondered whether some hoarders could have Aspergers. I have some knowlegde of aspergers and have considered whether dad could be an undiagnosed aspie. Having spoken to people in the know about hoarding and aspergers, the answer is yes, people with aspergers could become hoarders.

  • Comment number 70.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you everyone for taking the time to post your thoughts here. It has been truly wonderful to read your comments and especially to feel that we have managed to reach out to other families who have been hiding this shameful problem.
    I couldn't be happier with the way that hoarding was portrayed in the documentary, as there have been so many programmes made which seem to ridicule hoarders and trivialise their problems. I believe, from the messages I have received, that it's helped many people who simply couldn't fathom what it is about, to really understand, so big, HUGE smiley :-) thank you's to everyone! I apologise in advance, this is a long reply but I wanted to respond to as many people as possible!

    Delving into the triggers for this problem, the themes of loss and hardship seem to come up again and again, and whilst not everyone will react in the same way to a situation, knowing this can certainly help to put the behaviour into context.

    When I went to New York to meet author of Dirty Secret, Jessie Sholl, we also met with two other daughters of hoarders, and the four of us cried and laughed and shared, and it was the first time that I had met anyone other than my siblings that really understood. We had an instant bond, and I felt I'd gained 3 sisters; we'd all grown up in the 'same house'. Now I feel the same way about everyone that has posted, who has experienced Hoarding either themselves or with a loved one, I feel like we are a big extended family, discovering one another at last. We can help each other and ourselves.

    Tracy, ElayneNewton, identifying hoarding traits in yourself is the first step to acknowledgement and recovery, and the first step is often the most difficult so well done. It is a leap of faith but I hope that you will now feel empowered and not ashamed. You will most likely feel apprehensive about asking for help and worried that you will be forced to part with things that you are not ready to, but as Cole_London says, choosing to be in control of the possessions rather than the other way round is liberating.

    Wright39, Alex, Jaynie, kirsten, Antoniamg, Jackie Keevil, Sam, Kay, Fleecepea, dragonfly99, npatal, Pauline, Diana, Mandy, wendyelizabeth, Dan_A, nelumbo, timetoponder, Wendy V, you all also have direct experience of this problem in your families and have already seen the catastrophic consequences it can have. Since there was no UK based website for hoarders at the time of our first documentary, I set one up and I would love for both hoarders and families to visit the Help For Hoarders website if you haven't already done so, as there are many others out there that would be interested to hear your stories. Whether they be sad or successful, sharing them may give inspiration or motivation to others, and reading posts from others can be very healing when working through some of the emotions that you feel about the impact it has had on your lives.

    Kay your post brought a tear to my eye and I think anyone affected by hoarding can learn from what you said “life is so short and things don't make happy memories; people and experiences always do though.” Hear, hear!

    elliejane56 one of the great mysteries of hoarding is that many hoarders are perfectly able to see what is rubbish and what is worth keeping in other people's homes, because they have no attachment to it. I took mum to Richard's house and she was able to see through his excuses right away, and I think he valued her opinion as he knew she wasn't judging him

    eve English your sister lived next door to Marion and Allan, and endured “years of unhappiness” because of their clutter, but imagine poor Allan! This stuff is inside his head, and he can't escape from it. As a neighbour, I understand it somewhat ruins the view, but hoarders face extreme threats such as the removal of their children, financial penalties, ill health and even death, but these are still not sufficient for them to de-hoard without support. I personally feel that by pressurising a local authority to “do something”, we risk causing acute distress and the consequences of a forced clearance can be extremely serious. I have seen hoarders presenting suicidal after a blitz clean. Not to mention they always replace the “stolen” items quickly and tenfold, to try and prevent it from happening again. It is a shame that local authorities are not equipped with the correct tools or funds to deal with the situation in a way that minimises distress on all sides.

  • Comment number 71.

    Lloydfoxe I want to establish the difference between a hoarder and a collector in my opinion. A collectors possessions are organised, displayed and they are proud of them. A hoarder's possessions are chaotic, often piled up, and shameful. You are absolutely right we all have possessions, and we are all on a spectrum; most of us have items in our homes which we no longer use or like, but we keep them because we feel sentimental about them, or we think we might need them one day, or simply because it seems a waste to throw them out. This is normal. Hoarding becomes pathological when a) hoarders acquire and keep a large number of items that others deem to be of little or no value and b) when the rooms in the hoarded home cannot be used for their intended purpose, e.g. you can't bathe in the bathroom. I think it is incredibly important that Hoarding Disorder is recognised as an official condition in order for those people who are paralysed by it, to be effectively helped!

    Alan Page it sounds like you could be in a position of experience to advise EH teams how to approach hoarders and put them in touch with the correct support to help you to do your part of the job. I'd be very interested to hear more about your theories regarding housing leading to anxiety. Tom Ost, on the Help For Hoarders website there are professionals listed on the resources page who would be able to put you in touch with other environmental health teams such as the charity Mobile Repair Service. They have been working to put together a “task force” and devise a way of working together with hoarders and service providers.

    BigV, Kuba987, Tracy Druee, for anyone that would like to help or has a company which can help – please post on the Help For Hoarders website as I would like to be able to build up the resources for those in need.

    Richard P good to see you on here! Thank you for letting me in to your home, and being so brave to not only begin to tackle the possessions that have taken over your house and your life, but to share your struggles with the nation. I hope you will continue with Paul & Tim to keep on the right track, but I think the first thing you need to do, is really think about everything that comes into your home. Shopping, subscriptions, post, you've got to get the ratio so that more is going out than is coming in, and slowly but surely you will get there!

    I spoke to Marion and Allan today, and their fantastic news is that the garden clearance is still going strong and one of their grandsons has been over to play.
    My mum is also still working on de-cluttering and organising her remaining belongings, the difficult part is putting systems in place to maintain what she has achieved. Now if only you'd stop skip-dipping mum, we might stand half a chance! People, please stop throwing good stuff in the bin!

    My final thought; Therapist Kathryn Deyn helped me to understand better by explaining that hoarding itself was not the problem, but rather a solution. By filling a void, or numbing the pain or providing a feeling of safety, a hoarders possessions are a comfort. Only once the root problem is solved, will the need to acquire and keep diminish. Good luck to everyone who is attempting to overcome this problem, it can be done!

    Contact details:

    Dr David Mataix-Cols, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, conducting research into Hoarding Disorder and campaigning to have it fully recognised as a disorder

    Heather Matuozzo from Clouds End, a social enterprise which helps hoarders worked with Richard during filming.

    Kethryn Deyn, Emotional Freedom Technique therapist to whom my mum attributes much of her eventual ability to “let go”

    Stuff u Sell was the company that collected and sold stuff on ebay

    Prof. Paul Salkovskis, University of Bath had session with Richard

  • Comment number 72.

    In response to caissier, the reason this documentary was made was to tell an untold story, one which is common, but for many hoarders and their families, is secretive and shameful. It was made to lift the stigma and help other people in similar situations by showing them that they are not alone. My mum also wanted to be a “role-model” to show other people suffering with the same condition that they are not a lost cause. It is disappointing to hear that you felt it was lightweight, as I felt it was the most serious programme I have seen on the topic, many of which seem to trivialise and ridicule the subjects. My role was first and foremost to support Mum, Richard and Marion and Allan, with practical help, facilitating additional help which they could not access alone, and to aid outsider's (viewer's) understanding.
    My feelings were genuine, and without showing the emotions that people go through, we would not be telling the whole story. We would be doing a severe injustice to these situations to par it down purely to the clearing process. If only it were that easy!
    You say “we KNOW this is a sad situation”, and we “get” it, but the vast majority if the population don't get it at all and that is why millions of hoarders are isolated, misunderstood and penalised by the authorities, their neighbours and even their own families. Having remained in close contact with everyone involved in the programme I am confident that all have made (and continue to make) lasting changes and I believe my support and friendship was valuable through this difficult process. Hopefully skydiamonds and Richard P will echo that. Thank you for sharing your view, but obviously we will have to agree to disagree on this!

  • Comment number 73.

    I am chipping in again to take issue with Cassier, post 63. But my dinky lap top crashed and it should have gone in before Jasmine's comments.

    I agree on just one thing, TV is about entertainment, and there were a few genuine problems with making the programme to a rather tight schedule. This tight timescale meant a rather hurried edit, and I personally would have liked a little more input, putting a little more emphasis to explain why I had ended up in this situation. More anon.

    But the very personal attack on Jasmine is unfair. Before I met her, I had seen her trekking round Europe on C4's Place in the Sun, and I too thought she was perhaps doing glorified estate agent's job (comment 42 from Annie8) done on a similar formula to so many shows designed to fill the hours of daytime TV, digital, satellite and cable channels we now have.

    But attacking Jasmine because she is an attractive woman who works in an environment where what you look like may have some bearing on employability, (the Miriam O'Rielly saga springs to mind); yes people must make the best of what they have. Media people are also human, with feelings and sensitivities, well most that I've met, apart from one rather outlandish Big Brother spinoff presenter I met a few years ago at Borehamwood studios (no prizes for guessing) - I was defending an evictee - but enough, this is the BeeB.

    A bit of make-up makes a lot of difference, even I have had a studio 'dust-over' or two to do a few 5-minute interviews some years back. A hair cut, shave, a reasonable suit, and an 'accessory', usually some fancy patterned braces (I hate ties) makes me look very different; in short, I 'scrub-up' quite well for my age! And I can take the pee out of myself, too!

    The programme was made because it sought to look at the issue from a more sympathetic viewpoint than some similar programmes on another channel. Jasmine provided that link, with a personal family issue that had seriously affected her childhood, but nevertheless, she had made a reasonable success of her life. A similar situation affected me, but not as problematical. When I met Jasmine, I was very encouraged by her personal warmth, and talking about her situation, going back to childhood and school. We found many common threads despite a nearly 30 years age difference.

    I can see why she was upset, particularly in the warehouse where she is looking at her mother's distress at having to make a decision on what to keep, and what not to. It is frustrating to know what to do sometimes.

    'Cassier' comments on the the series 'A Life of Grime' about Environmental Health problems, and mentions the saga of Mr Trebus, wonderfully narrated by the sadly missed John Peel. I have talked to the EHO involved with that case, and also went into the house after Mr T had gone. There is no comparison with the problems experienced with Mr T who walked round with a laundrette carrier and came home daily with a bagful of bits and pieces. He had a very serious Mental Health problem, and communication was difficult. His sight was also a problem; he was totally oblivious to a very serious rat infestation. He once shouted at me 'there are no rats', but they were rife; Rattus Norvegicus ruled here! But they don't now, while mice are minor problem, two local moggies pop in to see me, and chase 'them meeces' away.

  • Comment number 74.

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  • Comment number 75.

    I saw this programme by accident, although had already seen the first in the series of the C4 series and the previous programme about a particuarly severe hoarder.

    My concerns are that hoarding becomes a "reality TV" show - yes it can be quite comical to see all these things piled high, but it is incredibly sad that people live with a genuine fear of throwing things away. That said I think on the whole it has been dealt with sensetively which is great.

    As an EH student I see it as a fine balance that has to be struck between having to remove someone from conditions that are a serious threat to their health, yet this is their home and the accumulations in it all mean something to that individual.

    But of course, as has been mentioned it is not just hoarding that is a housing and mental health issue, and I do wonder what myself and/or my contemporaries will face when we come to practice in a few years time...

  • Comment number 76.

    Jasmine,

    I'd just like to say that you and the team did a wonderful job with this programme. Clearly you could relate to those you were helping because of what you've had to go through with your mum, and to be able to share that with others and highlight the fact that there are "unrecognised" mental health issues out there, shows complete strength of character. It obviously was not sensationalised just for TV entertainment purposes, and I think it was well covered in such a short programme. Well done and keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 77.

    Hi Jasmine,
    I'd just like to say that the show was excellent! You did a great job of making people more aware of the condition that hoarders have. My Nan’s a hoarder and has been since my mum was young. My mum has told me horrible stories of what she had to do and what she went through as a child living with a hoarder. Recently my Nan was moved out of her house because it was so unsafe for a woman of her age to be living in such bad conditions. She moved out for 4 weeks and had gone back home today. She got to the point where she couldn’t move, she was living in a 2ft space being the front door. It would take her 2 hours just to get to the toilet. She was sleeping leaning up against a wall because there was no room on the floor and she was living on soups and fruit. She had to find hot water and put it in a flask so she could make a cup of tea when she got home. The team that have been helping my Nan have been wonderful, we couldn’t have asked for a better team throughout this. My Nan has been surprisingly willing to go through and get rid of everything; I have been with her today going through all that she asked to be kept. We found that saying that she could take it to auction made her change her mind about what she wanted to keep because she was getting something back. She has done amazingly well which we have been so surprised at and we are so proud of her! Unfortunately my Nan has many problems which have come from being a hoarder like breathing problems, heart problems and also mental health problems; I say this as I noticed you said that Richard had just come out of hospital. My Nan watched the program with me; it amazed me how she didn’t associate herself as being the same as them. She turned her nose up in disgust when she saw the gone off food yet her house was full of it.

    I'd also quickly like to add a huge well done to Richard, Allen and Marion.

    Once again you have done an amazing job on the programme and all the best for you and your mother.

  • Comment number 78.

    It is so inspiring to hear yours and your mums story Jasmine.

    My mum has a terrible problem with hoarding and she is so unhappy, I really wish I knew how to help her but she will not admit she has a problem, I know the hoarding is a symptom of her depression. You can hardly get through the front door for all the mess, there is no where to sit and my son has never been able to visit her. We grew up with the house being like it and it has just got worse and worse. A few years ago she had to spend a month in hospital and while she was there we all got together and cleared the downstairs of her house and decorated, it took at least 3 weeks of constant struggle, it hadn't been touched for so long, I found an unopened box of cornflakes that were 13 years old in a cupboard that had been hidden behind loads of stuff. We made her front room and kitchen really nice and accessible so that she had somewhere nice to sit and cook food, she was over the moon but angry that we had took it upon ourselves to get rid of some of her stuff. We were very careful only to get rid of things we knew she would never use, we had to fill up the spare room nearly to the ceiling stacked with all her stuff. We thought she might try to keep it tidy but she has just filled it up with stuff again, she keeps buying more things, as soon as a space is cleared she thinks she has to fill it with something, she is addicted to shopping channels. She rarely uses any of the stuff she buys it just sits in its box for years gathering dust or becomes buried. If you have any advice on how to help my mum I would be so grateful, I can't see her going on TV she is far too ashamed and embarrassed, she won't let anyone in her house, and I hate the thought of her being entertainment for some people :( x

  • Comment number 79.

    Beth & Oliviamelanie thank you for sharing your stories here, it can be so isolating, I think both of you and your families might like to have a look at my Help For Hoarders website where there are lots of other people sharing stories similar to yours! best wishes and thank you once again. Jasmine x

  • Comment number 80.

    A massive "thank you" to Jasmine Harman. Over decades I have watched "Life's Laundry", other hoarding programmes, bought books. None of them helped me to start throwing out my stuff. Jasmine's programme pointed out the need to throw stuff out without going through it. That sounds simple, but previous programmes and books seemed to concentrate on going through possessions. The programme finished at 2200, by 2300 my dustbin was full. The programme made me realise what a waste of life hoarding is. It has changed my life.

  • Comment number 81.

    Unfortunately, my husband missed the programme. Are there any plans to broadcast it again?

  • Comment number 82.

    Hi everyone

    Thanks again for all your comments.

    Potentialhoarder #81 just to let you know the BBC are looking into repeating Britain’s Biggest Hoarders later in the year although this isn’t confirmed yet so please do keep an eye out for it!

    Many thanks

    Eliza
    Researcher
    BBC TV blog

  • Comment number 83.

    74 - Continued from post 73

    When I worked as a Housing Officer in the mid 80s I saw several similar cases, but every one different. So I have seen it from both sides of the door. Then my home had lots of neatly stacked and sorted 'things' but it is only over the last decade when I suffered from both a heart condition, causing breathlessness, and lumbar spinal problems which cause pain and discomfort when bending down. Both exacerbate walking and moving about so my situation got worse. Stooping to pick something up is difficult and painful! Again external matters triggered off new problems, when I had to clear out my mother's cluttered home due, like Allan, to very hostile action by Birmingham City Council, who smashed into my teenage home and wreaked havoc. This is the reason for so many 'things in crates'.

    And to add insult to injury local PC Plod smashed in my front door for no valid reason whatsoever, having previously had the stained glass restored by a young art student' who has just done a commission for 'Beardie'. (Anna is now married to Kajagoogoo's guitarist Steve Askew) She's put a note on my Facebook page. So I still waiting some compensation from the Met for Anna to repair the windows their inexperienced Bobby smashed up. It all builds up, just too many hassles.

    So Cassier, a little objectivity please may help you understand other's situations.

    Looking at the Twitter page #britainsbiggesthoarders, again most comments were supportive or sympathetic. A few Tweets have come from young souls who clearly have still to fully understand certain human issues. One suggested we 'are so stupid', a thoughtless word from an unthinking person? Another said 'just a bunch of scruffs' - not at all, we can't all be 'fashionistas'. One link was crude porn - why do they bother?

    In all, I am still struggling, and am in need of some help to get someone, or even two people, to work with me part time to carry on clearing a bit at a time, to get life a bit more normal. Any ideas or offers?

    Anyway I am off to 'Big Brother' Tesco's, (there are other supermarkets) - it's the store next to the studios at Borehamwood which supplies the BB house inmates! These film studios are not the BBC ones, they are at Clarendon Road, where the Albert Square set is; when I went there some years back for a news interview I spied the odd Eastender, including the excellent Gillian Taylforth, close to.
    I'm buying some cheapo system self assembly plastic shelves, if they have any left! Unfortunately I have not seen them elsewhere, so I have no choice but said emporium! More work but it is essential to get stuff off the floor and start sorting.
    (Yes I confess to being a BB fan - takes all kinds .....! I even met the late Jade Goody once, and she was a nice lass!)

    Thanks again for the many sympathetic comments, I'll live with the few others, they can just go away and learn a bit more about life and other people.

    All too often it is too easy to shut the door on it for a few hours, but it is short-term relief, not a remedy. This programme, and the similar programmes on C4 have helped put it in perspective. I am by no means one of 'biggest' hoarders, others are in a far worse pickle than me. But I have too many old papers which need sorting and chucking in the recycle bin - YES - and so much clutter so must organise what I want to keep. And there are some items of furniture which need to go, some useless, others could be auctioned. Get a new fridge-freezer, get to my washing machine, which has packed up, repaired or replaced, and I could sort many things more quickly. My big problem is physical strength, to do what was once no problem and getting your brain around it all. Depression kicks in all too easily. Where do we all go from here? I am glad people would like a progress report later in the year.
    Richard P

    Note to Moderator - to be deleted. Please reset this at 74, as you apparently deleted my previous piece in error and so am resubmitting this, with a couple of corrections as requested.

 

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