A SUPPORT group in Reading is being launched for people affected by hoarding issues, it has been announced.

Hoarding Disorders UK is set to launch its third support group for people affected by hoarding issues after Reading Borough Council approached the organisation about providing an accessible support offer in the borough.

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The free group will take place on the last Tuesday of every month from 7pm to 9pm at the offices of homelessness prevention charity, Launchpad, on Friar Street, with the first meeting taking place on Tuesday, October 29.

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The Reading group will be run in association with Launchpad and will follow the successful formula of the two other support groups in Newbury and Bracknell which provide safe, confidential spaces to enable participants to help each other and listen to talks from external speakers on a variety of subjects such as grief counselling, mindfulness and how to avoid scamming.

Jo Cooke co-founded Hoarding Disorders UK after her work as a declutterer revealed the extent of the hoarding problem, and has since written a book called Understanding Hoarding.

She estimates that the condition affects between 2 and 6 per cent of the population and although the true number of people with hoarding issues in Reading is not known, Mrs Cooke believes the figure is on the rise.

She said: “We’ve noticed that the number of those affected by hoarding who are asking for help seems to be on the increase as people seem to be more anxious at the moment.

"This can manifest itself in hoarding as people hold onto things for comfort.

“Anyone affected by hoarding or who knows someone who hoards is welcome to attend.

"The group is non-judgmental, confidential and supportive, giving advice and practical solutions.”

Cllr John Ennis, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Housing, said: “The problem of hoarding can be far-reaching for the individual who hoards, their family and the wider community and we have been identifying increased incidents of hoarding behaviours in Reading. "As part of our approach to intervene early in preventing homelessness we want to work with Hoarding Disorders UK to raise awareness and help people who hoard where they can often feel overwhelmed and too embarrassed to ask for help.

“There’s no quick fix, but the support group is a great place to start and offers a better understanding of why people hoard and a supportive environment for people looking for help.”