Meet the Clutter Queen helping people tidy and sort their homes
Help for Hoarders says there are 1.2 million people in the UK hoarding, we meet the woman who helps them.
For many people an untidy house can mess with their mojo. The satisfaction of a cupboard or wardrobe sorted and a sparkling floor makes them feel happy.
But what if the mess in your house has got to the point where you can no longer see the floor or make it from one end of the room to the other?
That is where Nicky Sawkins aka the Clutter Queen comes in.
She started her business in 2010 as ‘Sorted by Swakins’ decluttering and helping people sort their kitchens, wardrobes and paperwork.
She said: “Most of my clients had issues with keeping things that they would find a use for one day and could see no reason to get rid of them.”
At this time Nicky was also still working as a catering manager and worked a great deal with the environmental health officers that came to inspect the premises she oversaw.
In 2011 she decided to become a full-time declutter advisor and changed the name of the business to The Clutter Queen.
She said: “What I found interesting was the impact clutter was having on the mental health of certain clients, depression, anxiety, and withdrawing from social interaction.
“Delving into the clinical psychology side of my work I decided that for me to be able to give full support and work alongside other professionals dealing with acute levels of clutter/hoard I needed to qualify in CBT, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. Which I did in 2015.”
Nicky is a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist specialising in people with hoarding/clutter issues. She works with clients that refer themselves as well as emergency services, GPs, social housing associations and the NHS support services.
She has even inspired a book. It all started when she received an email from a potential client asking if Nicky could visit her to see if she could help the woman’s husband sort his study.
“After a coffee and a chat in the lady’s home she took me up to the husband’s study, the study was set out over two rooms, floor to ceiling with books, files, stationery, a beautiful desk set looking out over a typical country garden, very peaceful,” Nicky explained.
“My initial thought was this person spends a lot of time in here, but it was overwhelming, cluttered and too busy.
“After digesting how I thought it would work I realised that this person was an author, his books lined many of the shelves.
“I worked alongside Simon for several sessions, liaising with clearance contractors, carpenters, painters and decorators to transform his study into a space with lots of
Love it, and let it go. This can be achieved with support and a kind word.
NICKY SAWKINS The Clutter Queen
He asked on one occasion, have you ever found a dead body, I answered yes.
“During our sessions we discussed my work, obviously not using any names because of the high regard I have for confidentiality and discretion, but I was able to give him an insight into my profession.
“He asked on one occasion, have you ever found a dead body, I answered yes, and so came about The Clutter Corpse, Simon Brett’s latest novel.
“I found it strange reading the book, some of the situations happen to me on a regular basis, although Ellen
Curtis has a different home life to me.”
Nicky adds that nothing surprises her any more when it comes to finding weird or interesting things in people’s home.
“Everyone I meet has a story behind why they are keeping what some people would be horrified by.
“It’s a case of overcoming the need to keep that item and move on, looking at a brighter future, not dwelling on the past.
“Love it, and let it go. This can be achieved with support and a kind word.”
The Clutter Queen is a limited company and Nicky’s daughter Abi has also come on board because of the amount of interest and referrals coming in.
Nicky said: “We give talks and group support to different companies to expand the help needed to vulnerable people and provide home management skills.”
They cover Hampshire, East and West Sussex and Surrey and are based in Chichester.
She added: “Abi and I have worked in some situations where we can just stand by the front door and look in as there is no way through the property, this is a daunting task for anyone to try and tackle without emotional and hands on support.
“We have been working with clients like this for many years now and have the experience and knowledge to make positive changes happen.
“We all face challenges throughout our lives, some more than others. We don’t judge or show negative response to any situation. Abi and I love the day to day challenges and work hard to help those in need of our services.
“Since starting the business, we have grown from de-cluttering a small space to helping people with no space to cook a meal, use their bathroom or sleep in their beds.”
Nicky shares some tips on how you can make a start of decluttering your own home:
“A good percentage of people with hoarding issues start with a collection, they pride themselves on looking after these things, displaying them and cleaning them. This becomes no longer a pleasure and so the collection becomes a mass.
“Sort through the collection and spend time cleaning what was your personal assortment, choose what still gives you pleasure and box up the remaining collection. Check on the selling websites if there is any monetary value that could help you financially, ask yourself if you are able to just donate and move on with a feeling of liberation.
“Only you can make the decision if you still find pleasure in the item.
“Another area of clutter is the airing cupboard or where you store your bedding and towels, empty out the contents and look at what you have, make up sets, one on, one off, one in the wash, this is all you need.
“Look at the towels, be honest with yourself, if they look shabby to you then they are, we need to practice hygiene now more than ever, have less towels and wash them more frequently.
“Cutlery draws, how do they get so many bits in them considering only clean cutlery goes in them.
“Take out the contents, sort what you need and safely wrap the others for disposal, disinfect the draws, wow, this really will make an impression.
“With children give them each a box and ask them to sort through their toys, make sure you talk through what you are asking them to do and reiterate and praise, try not to judge their decision, once the box is full or they feel they have done what they can, seal the box and date it.
“Advise them that if they have not asked to see in the box for six months you be able to give it to children that have very little toys.
“Lots of praise, make it fun for them to sort through their own toys knowing that they could be helping others.”
For more information, visit www.theclutterqueen.co.uk
Before started work, the after is left
After of one of the homes Nicky helped
The start of one job
Nicky and Simon Brett at the launch of his book, The Clutter Corpse
And the finished room