- Joe Sims
Morning all! Our lovely member Sally works for the excellent charity Shelter and in her role she was speaking to a homeless prevention support worker about a woman who desperately needs our help. It’s a heartbreaking read and her name has been shortened to one letter to preserve her anonymity. We wish M well as she strives to get back on her feet and thank Sally and her colleagues for their unswerving dedication and support.
Here’s the nomination in full:
Hi lovely 500 Reasons crew,
I’ve submitted once before for a client of the service I work for, a couple of years back and they were able to access a swimming team thanks to 500 reasons support.
One of my team mentioned this client to me and how they could see something that would really benefit M but couldn’t find the funding for it. I thought it would be worth asking you lovely crew!
At this time, I cannot share the full details of the client, so name has been restricted to ‘M’. This is written by Cath, the client’s Homelessness Prevention Support Worker, who has been supporting M for 18 months.
M is a single woman who lives alone. M has been diagnosed with Severe PTSD following her partner passing away instantly in front of her when he was very healthy. To try and cope with this trauma, M started to smoke Cannabis and then she was persuaded to take Heroin and became addicted. M has worked in the last 5 years to be drug free which she is now. She suffered with poor mental health but did not have any support and eventually, this manifested itself in her becoming a hoarder. She also covered herself up in thick layers of clothing from head to toe, always wearing a hat, and was afraid of anyone seeing her, leading M to become isolated and agoraphobic.
M got into difficulties with her rent after her partner died and did not deal with any of her finances. Shelter was asked to work with M as she was not engaging with the Council workers to see if we could help to prevent an eviction. I started to work with M in August 2021. M spoke to me by telephone and allowed me to support her with her rent issues and benefit issues. I built trust with M, and eventually she agreed I could go to the house but not go in. We would meet on the stairs and discuss support.
Gradually M became comfortable with me and disclosed how she had been living. She has no gas connected, as this was disconnected as the boiler needed replacing but she has never let anyone in to do this work. M has a microwave for food and an electric fan heater but no central heating.
By working sensitively and steadily with M, she has acknowledged that she needed help but was too scared to seek it. She had physical health issues as well as mental health issues. She agreed for me to support her to a GP, who was very understanding, and she is now having her physical needs met, and she is receiving counselling for Severe PTSD.
M has gradually become less wrapped up in clothes and has uncovered her head for the first time in years. She has been outside to a café with my support, and to a service office to receive support, which was terrifying for her, but she managed it. She has agreed to attend a support group with me once a month with MAGPIE, run by the charity MIND, who specialise in hoarding and associated mental health. She is trying to declutter one bag at a time, but she is struggling with the level of hoarding that has arisen from her situation. She cannot allow me to help with decluttering as she is too ashamed, but she is at the stage where she wants to declutter. M has also recently felt able to allow workers in to do a gas safety check, but nothing can be done about putting a boiler in until her house is clear.
M has some adult sons and she would like all of them to be able to visit her and sit in her home as they used to, but she won’t allow them to come until she is clutter free. One son is getting married in the summer and M is trying use this a target to have made some good progress in clearing her home. The declutter needs to be done by a specialised company who are aware of the sensitivities and implications of mental health needs and who will work in a trauma-informed way with M. No companies are available to do this for free. I have approached MAGPIE, but they do not have any funding and cannot advise of any charity where I would be able to apply to. I have tried other charities we regularly use for things such as white goods or bedding, but decluttering is not covered in their eligibility.
I am approaching to see if any help can be given towards a fee of £600 which has been quoted by a company specialising in decluttering for hoarders.
If any further information is required, please feel free to contact me.
Cath Rainey, Support Worker