Therapists run hoarding support group at fire station

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Therapists run hoarding support group at fire station

Fire Station 1 - Resized

People with hoarding problems can now seek help at an innovative support group run by South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust’s cognitive behaviour therapists at Dockhead Fire Station in Southwark.

A hoarding disorder is when someone acquires an excessive number of possessions and finds it difficult to discard them, leading to unmanageable clutter. It can cause significant distress and can also be a major fire risk, making fires spread more easily and harder to escape from.

Caroline Harrison and Dr Victoria Bream from the Trust’s Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma have started running weekly drop-in support sessions to help people overcome hoarding.

Dr Victoria Bream said: “There are a lot of people out there with hoarding problems and it's still associated with stigma and shame. A group like this where there is no barrier to coming is really great. Anyone can attend and you can come once or many times. Hoarding is a very difficult problem to crack on your own, so to have support from other people is really powerful.”

Some of those attending said that the group was ‘cosy’ and they liked that ‘it wasn’t held in a hospital or church hall’. Holding it in a fire station means that officers from London Fire Brigade can talk with the group members and help them to feel comfortable with fire safety checks they provide in people’s homes.

Lee has been to the group several times. “My thing is storing books and papers,” he said.  “I don't let anyone into my home because of my hoarding, not even my family. This group is good for sharing practical solutions, for people looking to move on from their hoarding. It's purposeful and a good balance between challenge and encouragement”.

Borough Commander for the Southwark Fire Service, Neil Chisholm said: “This pilot is a successful partnership between us, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, and Southwark Council. We have the premises to run support groups, Southwark Council has provided funding, and Victoria and Caroline from SLaM have the expertise to support people with hoarding problems”.

The group meets at Dockhead Fire Station, 8 Wolseley Street SE1 2BP - 1.30pm - 3pm every Thursday. For more info, please contact Dr Victoria Bream on 020 3228 2431.

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