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.

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

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 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!

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.

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  • Comment number 83. Posted by Richard P

    on 28 May 2012 03:31

    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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  • Comment number 82. Posted by Eliza Kessler

    on 25 May 2012 16:19

    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 81. Posted by potentialhoarder

    on 22 May 2012 19:25

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

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  • Comment number 80. Posted by potentialhoarder

    on 22 May 2012 19:04

    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.

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  • Comment number 79. Posted by Jasmine Harman

    on 16 May 2012 07:10

    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 78. Posted by oliviamelanie

    on 13 May 2012 23:06

    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

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  • Comment number 77. Posted by Beth

    on 12 May 2012 22:40

    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.

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  • Comment number 76. Posted by MrBluMan

    on 11 May 2012 22:02

    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.

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  • Comment number 75. Posted by samuelpbaker

    on 11 May 2012 17:28

    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...

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  • Comment number 74. Posted by Richard P

    on 11 May 2012 16:49

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

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