Bucks Fire and Rescue using telephone conferences to support hoarders

Support continues in these difficult timesSupport continues in these difficult times
Support continues in these difficult times | jpimedia
Bucks Fire and Rescue are continuing to provide support for hoarders during the coronavirus pandemic.

They have made the transition to using telephone sessions to reach out to support those with hoarding issues, while also advising friends families and carers of what they can do to help.

As a result of the COVID-19 restrictions the group was unable to provide its usual group meetings at Haddenham Fire Station, so moved to fortnightly telephone sessions in order to continue its support for all those affected by hoarding issues, and reduce social isolation.

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Karen Lock, safety manager at Bucks Fire and Rescue said they were looking to provide 'ongoing, practical support' where it was needed most during the Coronavirus pandemic.

She said: “We are expanding these telephone sessions during this COVID 19 period and into the future to reach more people, locally and from further afield, who need our support and may be unable to travel to the group sessions, normally held Haddenham or in Buckinghamshire; or who may simply prefer the group telephone support meetings option: we will continue to provide these extra group telephone sessions as long as they are needed.

She added that they would provide additional support when society returns to normality.

The next meeting of the support group is scheduled for Thursday 14 May 2020 – if you know someone who could benefit, find out more by clicking here.

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Hoarders are people who are unable to dispose of excess or unused belongings, to the point where they are storing so many items that their living space becomes cramped. Estimates suggest that more than a million people in the UK may have hoarding issues.

There are many risks associated with hoarding, including those related to fire safety.

Karen stressed the dangers of hoarding, which 'create a greater risk of fire spreading', 'increasing the risk of injury or death' and may also 'make it very difficult to escape.

She said: “High levels of clutter make it much easier for a fire to start and create a greater risk of fire spreading, increasing the risk of injury and death. It can also make it very difficult to escape, and lead to difficulties for firefighters tackling the blaze.

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“In response to the COVID-19 restrictions we felt it important to be able to continue supporting our members during this difficult time, so we set up a conference call facility which allows us to link the group together, in a single phone call, while keeping personal numbers hidden. This has meant members have been able to continue to discuss their issues together, among those who are experiencing similar problems, and obtain information and opportunities, where appropriate, to support change where desired.

“Getting people together in this way continues to provide a space for them to experience a unique emotional identification with each other and their issues. It also enhances mutual group togetherness, support and friendship, which can reduce the terrible social isolation that can impact upon people with these issues, and help people move forward and gain control over their lives.

“In these times of tremendous uncertainty, this is a greatly effective way to provide continuation of this support.” Now the group is planning to provide support to people who live further afield and who may not previously have been able to get to meetings due to distance."

The group’s upcoming telephone link meetings are taking place:

Thursday 14 May 2020 5pm to 6pm

Thursday 28 May 2020 5pm to 6pm

Thursday 11 June 2020 5pm to 6pm

Thursday 25 June 2020 5pm to 6pm

Anyone who has issues with hoarding and is interested in joining the telephone meetings is asked to contact Elaine Hassall at [email protected].