A PROJECT to help compulsive hoarders and prevent fires has seen 20 tonnes of clutter and waste removed from Wirral homes.
The removal comes as part of the Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA) UK Hoarding Awareness Week, with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) highlighting the work to help people who have serious issues with clutter in their home.
The 12 month pilot project to deal with hoarding at 30 Wirral properties was launched by the Fire Support Network – the charitable arm of MFRS - in April and so far 20 tonnes of electrical appliances, clothing, food and rubbish has been removed from five homes.
The other 25 homes are expected to have been de-cluttered by the end of March.
Hoarding piles of combustible materials can cause a greater risk of fire, can block fire escapes and prevent firefighters accessing the property.
Fire chiefs say compulsive hoarders may be less likely to carry out repairs in the property on items such as gas fires and clutter may prevent contractors being able to carry out repairs.
Hoarding can also prevent people being able to access facilities in their own home and cause pest issues.
CFOA UK Hoarding Awareness Week aims to raise awareness about the dangers of extensive clutter in the home, as well as encouraging partners to work together to help compulsive hoarders.
Wirral’s group manager Paul Murphy said: “Hoarding can pose a risk to residents as it can involve piles of combustible materials that can catch fire and can also block escape routes.
“It can prevent firefighters being able to access a property in the event of a fire and can pose a danger to firefighters.
“This is an important pilot project by Fire Support Network, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service and partners that is providing valuable support to those with issues of hoarding, who can be among the most vulnerable in communities. Not only will it help their wellbeing but will also hopefully prevent residents being at risk of a serious fire in the home.”
Funding for the project comes from Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group and the aim is to develop a multi-agency approach to deal with the issues of hoarding.
MFRS and partners in Wirral, including the local authority, social services, occupational therapists, GPs, housing associations, mental health teams, charities and landlords are working together to come up with a “best practice approach” to the issue.
Karen Lavery, community welfare manager at Fire Support Network, said: “The ultimate aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of the person living in the property that will help a range of different services.
“We really want this pilot to be expanded regionally and nationally as a best practice model.
“Fire Support Network has developed this project having been dealing with the issue of hoarding for the past eight years.
“Now we believe we have a model that works. Agencies individually find it hard to tackle the issue, so we have come up with a multi- agency approach.”
People with hoarding issues have been identified through a referral process and a bespoke service has been set up to meet the needs of each individual.
They are being helped by clearing their premises of hoarded material, providing them with information about other services, offering a befriending service by Fire Support Network volunteers, highlighting activities in the area to help those who feel socially excluded and seeking support such as cognitive behaviour therapy.
Fire Support Network has found materials that have been hoarded can range from hundreds of radios or electrical appliances, to clothing, food and rubbish.