MONTHS of lockdown has hit those who suffer with hoarding disorders.

Business owner Liza Curtis, 49, helps people with the condition in Brighton and Hove and Sussex.

She said some of the worst examples of hoarders have included one person who had months worth of rotting food in her hallway from online grocery deliveries.

Others have turned to hoarding as a way of coping with loss and bereavement, she said.

There are fears that the condition, which was recognised by the World Health Organisation in 2018, has been made worse by the coronavirus lockdown.

Liza, a mum-of-three from Hangleton, set up her business Mother Clutter as a response to her own father who battled the condition.

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Hoarding can be a real prolbem during lockdown

For 28 years she was not allowed into his house, and she said there is a strong stigma and sense of shame for many.

She said the condition can impact on people from all walks of life and social backgrounds, but she works with tenants facing eviction from housing associations or the council to solve their problems.

Liza said: “During lockdown it has become desperate, people have started hoarding again and I have not been able to visit my clients.

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“One woman was so upset during the lockdown she had food deliveries and had three months’ worth of rotting food in bags in her hallway.

“She hasn’t been in her kitchen for three years because of the clutter. We’ve been working with her for months. I still haven’t seen her kitchen.

“Another client has filled his entire house and outbuildings and has started to live on the driveway in a van. But now the van is filling with stuff. He sees things left on the street and takes them in.

Some clients have pets like dogs, and won’t notice the dog poo in their homes. They just don’t see it.”

With television programmes often highlighting the worst cases, Liza says it can often put people off seeking help as they feel they could be judged.

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She said: “For many it is a compulsion. They cannot resist it.

“The people don’t have social lives, and every one of them has a story as to why. For some it is bereavement, for others mental health problems.

“They lose contact with relatives and friends, and they just get surrounded by it.

“You have to talk them around, it’s no use going in with the rubber gloves and shouting at them.”

Her thoughts have been echoed by psychologist Dr Sophie Holmes from the Sussex Partnership NHS Trust who spoke to the Daily Mail.

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Dr Holmes said: “To be diagnosed, it has to be impacting on your day-to-day life quite significantly.

“We’re not talking about people who have a lot of books, it’s people who use their bed to store their books on and so can no longer sleep in it.

“They are not able to ignore it, and if your usual coping strategy is to avoid something, it’s highly likely other difficulties emerge, either the hoarding itself may worsen or it could lead to increased low mood.

“Nagging will only make people who are already feeling unsupported feel more stressed.”

But Liza said that since setting up her business in 2013, she has helped many people.

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Liza with her daughter is helping people with hoarding disorder

She said: “The big thing is shame. People feel ashamed that they have let themselves reach that state.

“Most will not let other people even in the house. My first difficulty is getting a client to open their door, if they can.

“But they can turn it around. Getting rid of the clutter can change their lives.

“I remember seeing one woman who was having a complete breakdown. We started work, and when her kitchen was cleared she cried tears of joy.

“I have found that once we start to sort their problems, they do not go back into hoarding. They keep things to a good level.”

Hoarding Disorders UK director Jo Cooke said lockdown has ‘definitely set people back’.

She said: “We’re running online and telephone support and we are getting new people coming to us, over and above what we normally see.

“Right now, people are not able to grieve normally, whether that’s not being able to say goodbye to people in hospital or having to wait to hold a funeral, which makes letting go of things much more difficult.”

For more information or to seek help visit To find out more about Liza’s services search for Mother Clutter UK on Facebook.