Expansion needed to tackle town's 'worst cases' of hoarding

Lofty Heights team photo in garden

Jaki Field (third from left) said Lofty Heights have had people who have needed to be winched or cut out of their properties so they can get to vital medical appointments - Credit: Curtis Field

A decluttering organisation looking to help those who have "fallen through the cracks" has made a bit to expand its reach in Ipswich.

Lofty Heights is a not-for-profit social enterprise aiming to make homes safer and improve wellbeing.

The team specialise in decluttering, help with hoarding and house clearing/cleaning. 

"Some of the worst cases of hoarding and cluttering we have seen have been in Ipswich", said Jaki Field, operating manager at Lofty Heights.

"We've had people who have needed to be winched or cut out of their properties so they can get to vital medical appointments.

"It's a really big problem throughout Suffolk."

In order to help those most in need, the organisation has applied for a grant of £2,000 from each of the five area committees. 

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"£10,000 will help us reach those who have fallen through the cracks", said Jaki.

"People can hoard for 5, 10, 15, 20 years. It's only when the person hits the radar, with a medical crisis for example, that people get the help they need.

"This money will help us intervene at an early stage and tackle the problem sooner."

Jaki highlighted the pandemic as a "perfect storm" for those suffering with cluttering and hoarding disorders. 

"Covid saw a breakdown of all support services. 

"Support workers, cleaners and housing officers couldn't visit so things just got worse.

"Some cases even see people turning away family members now because things have got into such a condition that they're ashamed. 

"So there's a lot of social exclusion involved as well."

With the ongoing cost of living crisis, there are fresh fears surrounding the welfare of those who suffer. 

Many who once used spare cash to pay for cleaning services are now forced to use that money for essentials and basics.

"It's our tenth year this year and we've been highlighting this as a major issue since we first opened.

"With the rise in the cost of living, it's only going to get worse", said Jaki. 

Looking ahead, Lofty Heights hopes to continue making a "massive impact". 

"With this £10,000 we could help 20 to 40 people and prevent them from being overwhelmed with clutter.

"Even the simple, basic, practical stuff can make a major difference."

The organisation's application will be discussed at Ipswich Borough Council's North East Area Committee today (Thursday).