Hoarding behaviour and charity shops, a perfect relationship?

13/05/2022 07:03

By Megan Karnes, Chair, Hoarding UK

HoardingUK and the Charity Retail Association are working together to provide people with hoarding behaviour facts and evidence-based data to contradict misconceptions which may be a barrier to donating to charity shops.

Hoarding behaviour, which falls under Obessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorders, was clinically recognised as ‘hoarding disorder’ in the United States in 2013 (DSM-V) and by the World Health Organisation in 2018 (ICD-11). It manifests in overwhelming distress when attempting to discard, resulting in an accumulation of belongings that make the home potentially unsafe or uninhabitable. Trauma and anxiety underpin this complex disorder in which up to 5% of the population live in significantly hoarded environments.

Despite this, intervention and enforcement are still the primary engagement models. Recent research published by the University of East Anglia, validated that untrained, unqualified housing staff delivering spatially-focused object removal processes have outcomes that are detrimental to both people with hoarding behaviour and the professionals trying to help them.

And, in the same way as OCD reassurances do not provide relief, it is not likely that people with hoarding behaviour will begin thronging to charity shops to donate items based on the environmental benefits of charity shops alone.

Why not and what do we need to do to change this?

We want to create a safe place for people who hoard to donate, because they will know that both they and the items they bring will be valued.

Megan Karnes, Chair, Hoarding UK

Many people who hoard care deeply about the environment. Despite the fact that 96% of charity shop donations are sold, reused and prevented from going into landfill – people tell stories of trying to donate and having items refused and/or walking by a shop and seeing bags outside with items being discarded. We discussed with the CRA making it clearer what reasons bags of items outside charity shops might be there for, whether waiting for the recycler, donations dropped off by the public or other reasons.

Despite hoarding stereotypes, unused and unopened items – compulsively purchased – are common items held by those who hoard. The motivation to have these valuables be enjoyed and appreciated by others can be a big motivator to let go.

So, as well as myth-busting the misconceptions around donating to charity shops, we want to work with charities who collect donations from homes, to create an easier way of accessing collection bags and coordinating pick-ups. 

We want to create a safe place for people who hoard to donate, because they will know that both they and the items they bring will be valued.

If you want to discuss ways that your retail operation can help please email info@hoardinguk.org.