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.

West Sussex County Times - - Feature - Char­lotte Hard­ing

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.

pos­i­tive en­ergy.

“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.the­clut­

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

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