An Ashfield man has said that he would no longer be here if it wasn’t for the support he received for his hoarding problem.
Dean, 56, from from Selston, has been helped by charity Jigsaw, based in Mansfield Citizen’s Advice Centre, after his hoarding became a fire hazard.
Dean began hoarding items such as lawnmowers and tools after he suffered the loss of his parents.
Alone in the world, Dean began buying more items as a coping mechanism, until it spiralled out of control.
He said: “I had nobody in the world. I came out of hospital and I just couldn’t cope or keep my property tidy. My hoarding addiction became worse and many rooms in my house were unusable.
“I couldn’t access my bed and I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor. I was under the threat of eviction. It was an extremely worrying and bad time in my life and could see no end to it.”
He added: “I was buying stuff I didn’t need, then putting it in bags. Bags build up and before you know it, your house is full.”
The issue got so bad, that Dean said he wouldn’t be here without Jigsaw’s support.
He said: “If it wasn’t for Jigsaw, I would have taken my dog, Tuppence to be put to sleep and done the same to to myself. I couldn’t live how I was living anymore.”
After Dean suffered a stroke in October 2017, Age UK helped him leave King’s Mill Hospital and put him in touch with Jigsaw after his house was unfit for him to go back to.
With Jigsaw’s help, Dean addressed the issues that lead him to keep hoarding, and gradually cleared his home.
Ashfield Disrict Council provided two skips which were filled with Dean’s possessions, which included the power tools he has collected, such as strimmers which he had a number of.
Alison Waring, co-ordinator at Jigsaw said: “When we first went to Dean’s house, the rubbish was waist height, and Tuppence couldn’t walk around. Dean was the first case I ever took on, and we’ve helped him not only with his hoarding, but with his health, his education and his money.”
She added: “We helped Dean build a life socially as well. Loneliness is a massive problem for a lot of people we see, so we try to engage them in social activities, and access to councilling. We’re a signposting service but we are friends as well.”
Jigsaw has 15 clients in Mansfield and Ashfield that they help with their hoarding.
There is good news for Jigsaw’s future as they have been awarded £10,000 a year for the next three years as part of Nottinghamshire County Council’s local improvement scheme.
Councillor Gordon Wheeler, of Nottinghamshire County Council said: “We are very pleased that we have been able to support such a worthwhile project. Jigsaw really does change lives and helps people to live with their hoarding addiction while improving their living environment.”
He added: “Lots of hard work goes in to Jigsaw. It’s important to educate people on the dangers of hoarding. It can be a massive fire risk, and it’s a far more complex issue than just telling people to clear out their homes. It’s nothing short of amazing what Jigsaw does for people who have nowhere else to turn to.”
In one instance, a client had set a tent up outside as their house was so full they could not access their bed.
Ms Waring said: “Sometimes clients can’t even access their toilets and have to go in bags. We usually get referals from carers who can’t access their clients in their homes, and that’s when we step in to help.”
She added that one client had collected toiletries, and had a house full of thousands of soaps and cleaning materials.
Ms Waring is one of only four people who work at Jigsaw, and the service is so underfunded that she is paid for two days a week, then voluteers for two, so that her clients don’t have to wait long to be seen.
She said: “I love my job, it’s good to help the most vulnerable members of society.”
Dean is one of Jigsaw’s sucess stories.
He will return to education in September at West Notts college, where he attended before his stroke, to study English and Biology.
Dean one day hopes to become a physiotherapist.
He said: “A big thumbs up to Jigsaw. I’m a much brighter and happier person now.”
For help with hoarding or loneliness, visit: www.jigsawsupportscheme.org.uk