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As autumn gets underway, we begin to think of preparing for the onset of darker evenings, cosy times by the fire, and what to do to prepare for winter.

Time now to review the remains of the summer wardrobe, removing what’s not going to make it to next year and selecting what would be best stored for summer 2011, not forgetting to keep some lighter things available for the often promised late blast of sunshine weather before the thermometer drops too far! 

The garden may need its own declutter even before all the leaves fall, as the remnants of summer bedding plants need to be replaced with something that’ll give you some colour and pleasure through the winter. So long as you get the winter flowering pansies etc in before the end of October, you should have sturdy enough plants to get you through to the first spring bulbs flowering, as they’ll have the time to build a decent root system. It’s also a good time to plant woody herbs such as Rosemary for a good supply through the winter.

It’s also the time when mail order catalogues for Christmas really get underway. The deluge of paper through the letterbox both solicited and unsolicited can be a real clutter challenge, so decide now how you’re best going to deal with it. Perhaps have an area where you can have a recycling bag in close proximity to a shredder and waste bin (for those that arrived enclosed in plastic). Try to develop the habit of immediately disposing of those you’re really unlikely to need and having a weekly sort-through of ones you do keep so the mountain doesn’t get out of control and start spreading around your home.
Have a rake through your kitchen cupboards to clear out of date items and make room for the store of items you’re likely to use in the colder months.

National Declutter Week

October 23rd - 31st
There’s a national declutter week organised by a storage ‘umbrella’ company running in October, with a competition; the prize being a free declutter! For details of the week, and tips, sources of information etc go to


Age UK

Age UK issued the following press release at the end of September:-


 ‘Clear out your clutter and harmonise your home’, urges Age UK

as consumer spending rises again

Latest CBI* statistics reveal that, despite the recession, high street spending is up compared to last year, with 60% of retailers saying that sales rose during the first two weeks in September, with clothing and footwear & leather experiencing the strongest areas of growth. To make room for all these new purchases Age UK is calling on all big spenders out there to de-clutter and give their old or unused items to their local Age UK shop.

Not only is de-cluttering a great way to ensure that the home is a calm and relaxing environment, but by donating items no longer needed shopaholics will be making a real difference to people in later life around the country.


Age UK has teamed up with the Association of Professional De-clutterers and Organisers to develop five top tips that people can follow to de-clutter their homes:

1.         Do a little at a time; try setting aside 15 minutes every few days to start tackling what you have to sort through. Don’t try to do too much at one time, or you may find the task too onerous!

2.         Take a small box, carrier bag, or bin bag, set yourself a time limit and set about tackling one area that’s troubling you. Gather all the unwanted items together and put them aside to donate to Age UK.

3.         Think of your clearout of things and the subsequent charity items as your charitable donation; share the wealth of things you have, and in so doing contribute to the wider society. Altruism can make you feel good; you’re giving something back. And with Gift Aid the charity can make an extra 28p in the pound at no extra cost to you!

4.         Seasonal clothing; will it be good for next year, or will it look dated? Have you outgrown the style or colours?  Age UK can make good use of things that you no longer wear. Why keep them ‘just in case’ if someone else can use them now.

5.         Remember, try to be as ruthless as you can; when was the last time you used the item and are you likely to use it again anytime soon?


Hugh Forde, Managing Director of Retail, Trading and Training at Age UK, said:

“Despite the recession, monthly consumer spending on items such as clothes and shoes continues to rise. With the seasons changing and people’s wardrobes following suit, it is a great time to de-clutter and sort through your home.


“Age UK is always grateful for donations and we would be delighted to receive any quality clothing, accessories, home wares, CDs and books that you no longer need. Your donations really do make a difference - if every household in places the size of Manchester, Sheffield or Bristol donated just one item worth £5 then around an extra £1million would be generated to help improve the lives of older people.”


Jon Ramsay, from the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (ADPO), commented: “Many people are hoarders and keep things ‘just in case’, although they know they’re unlikely to ever use them again; most people wear 20% of their clothes, 80% of the time. With autumn fast approaching and people reassessing their wardrobe, now’s a great time to sort through things like clothes and accessories and donate anything you don’t need to Age UK. For more information about de-cluttering visit”

*CBI statistics

CBI - Confederation of British Industry. Statistics provided refer to the CBI Monthly Distributive Trades Survey

Netherlands Conferences

The Netherlands have been busy with a conference on compulsive hoarding, and a national convention. If your Dutch is good, have a look at otherwise use an online translation service to translate into English for you (though the results on such translations can be a little strange). They had a very enjoyable workshop ,‘Taming the Paper Tiger at Work’ from Barbara Hemphill, who opened the conference. Have a look at her website:

Ingrid van der Locht ( ) sent us some information following the conference:-


October 1st the annual conference took place in The
Netherlands. 126 delegates enjoyed a day with quality speakers,
workshops, exhibition and networking activities. Orvention has
become a household name for organizers. Here you will find the
best speakers and the biggest exhibition for organizers of Europe
with a.o. Leitz, Curver and Dymo.
Judith Kolberg ( ) managed to give an inspiring lecture with humour.
Her lecture ‘What we can learn from our disorganized clients’
was a great ending to the day.
Els Jacobs ( ) gave an instructive workshop on ‘How to write a proposal, plan and progress report’. The NBPO (De Nederlandse Beroepsvereniging voor Professional Organizers) organized an
Interactive workshop: ‘Ask the Organizers Panel’ with guests

Judith Kolberg (noted above) Henri van Amerongen ( ) literally opened up the world with his workshop ‘Skype en teleclasses’ live from Canada.


Cluttergone speak at Netherlands Compulsive Hoarding Congress

Beverly Wade and Chrystine Bennett of Cluttergone ( ) were invited to speak at the First International Congress on Compulsive Hoarding held in the Netherlands on the 16 June 2010 at Maasen just outside Amsterdam.  Beverly and Chrystine presented "A Practical Approach'; laying out an outline of their technique.

The Congress covered a broad range of issues  presented by psychiatrist, psychologists and social workers including:

* definition of compulsive hoarding
* its cause and diagnosis
* a summary of current research
* treatment methods

The meeting was attended by 220 delegates from a range of professions including community nurses, social workers, landlords, home care workers and professional organisers.

See Beverly’s website on Compulsive Hoarding for more details of the issue, and helpful links to support agencies along with a wealth of other information on the subject


Regional News

In this newsletter we’re paying a visit to the North East and North West regions to hear from some of our members:-
Philip Gaughan (
For me, clearing clutter is not just about throwing stuff in the bin, the maxim “one person’s rubbish is another person’s treasure” fits in with my ethics. I regularly pass items on through ‘’ After one such occasion in conversation with a fellow freecycler, I found out he made trailers for motobility scooters using the top half of broken swivel office chairs and some expert fabricating and tinkering, which then enabled the owner to pull passengers, feline or human off road along promenades, amazing. All the rage on the east coast I’m led to believe.

I love helping clients move on. For some this can be a slow process for others the speed and willingness to declutter amazes me; all they needed was a little push and encouragement. Another client having moved from Sheffield to Cornwall into rented accommodation hoping to buy a property there, left all their bulky items and furniture in storage in Sheffield, was still in rented accommodation two years later, having realised the cost of storage was more than the items in storage were worth, contacted me through a recommendation and asked me to take the whole of the contents to a specific charity in Sheffield. Wow that was letting go!

I enjoy the variety of work decluttering brings me, from home office reorganising, whole house clearances to supporting clients dealing with bereaved relatives or close friends possessions. It’s a privilege to be allowed into people’s homes and private lives, which I treat very sensitively. Early on in my decluttering career it was an honour for me to ensure my wife’s best friends belongings reached the destinations she desired, it was her dying wish.
Another motto I quite like is ‘strike while the iron’s hot’ which is relevant for me at the moment as I’m inundated with work, a good sign for the current economic climate, and although it may take some people a while before they make contact, as is my experience, they want the job doing as soon as possible.
Decluttering is an art and I’m sure every declutterer has their own style, mine is eco conscious by, recycling, freecycling, maximising space and materials and enabling my clients to move on by focusing on what’s important for them.
Chrissy Halton ( )

This year has been quite manic in terms of the decluttering and organising services I offer - much more so than any other services (I own an Interior Styling business). I have also found that this is where my heart lies - as its so satisfying to help people and see a smile on their faces at the end of a session.

I have had all sorts of clients this year, but a couple of them have stood out - so will share them with you.

I got a call from a lady, asking for help. She said she was organised but just hadn't got the stamina to tackle everything. They had moved from abroad 3 years ago and had been renting in the UK ever since, so, in her words they had the house abroad and the rental property to merge into the new property they had just bought - and there was "NOT ENOUGH SPACE for them both as they had downsized considerably" . We all get images of what we imagine clients homes to look like after speaking to them - and I had envisaged a typical 4-5 bed property of modern design - overrun with large furniture and possessions. Imagine my surprise when I turned up and its a gated mansion with a separate cottage in the grounds!!!! Downsizing?! What did they move from!!!!!

This was an atypical project as the lady was very organised and everything in the house had its place - it was purely that the cottage was full of boxes yet to open, and work out how to get everything from there working as well. We had lots of fun over a few days as you can imagine!

Another project was a lady who was so overwhelmed by her home and its contents that she couldn't physically look at it without getting stressed. We had to work out a way for me to do the main decluttering without her - not easy as you know when you can't make decisions about what to keep etc.... I simply tackled it by grouping everything together, and then having her sit in a room she was comfortable in, and bringing her the groups of items so that we could sort small chunks out. She was so happy at the end of the week and it was lovely to see her change personality - her head was held high by the time we had finished.

This is becoming a very popular service with more and more people purchasing more and leading busy lives - so they just can't keep on top of it all - and every client is different. The funniest and most common thing I get when I turn up for a session with a client is them saying that they have tidied up to prepare for my visit - worrying that theirs is the worst house I will have seen! - People still get nervous asking you into their homes, and it’s our job to make them feel as comfortable as possible.

Lesley Spellman (

I have been decluttering and home staging homes in Manchester, Cheshire and Lancashire for a year now and I am loving it! My business lets me combine my three passions - organising, chatting and making a difference to people's lives. Every day is different and every client is different. It's a privilege to meet all these great people who have just one thing in common - they want to make a fresh start and by decluttering anything from a cupboard to a whole house they do just that! One of my personal highlights was a client who hadn't slept in her own bed for 3 years - she was on the sofabed in her kids' room because her room was out of bounds because of the clutter. It was fantastic to go back the next day to hear she had slept like a baby in her own bed (helped along by a long day of decluttering!)

Jenny Berry ( ) being interviewed on the radio:-
BBC Radio Bristol Interivew.

I had a call from a researcher from the BBC.  They wanted to run a story about parents getting fed up with their grown up children's clutter left at their houses and asked if I could contribute any advice or anecdotes.  "Sure" I said.......then he called back to invite me in to be a studio guest...this was for the next day!  I had no idea what to expect, had never done it before and didn't have any specific questions to prepare.  I just arrived at the BBC, had a five minute wait in Reception, then was ushered down to the studio and more or less straight in to sit down with the presenter (Graham Torrington).  So there were just the two of us in the room, I sat at the end of his desk with a microphone, and he just fired questions at me!  He was very smiley and helped me to relax and generally made it quite easy to keep the chat going.  So now I know what it's like I'd offer this advice for all of you: 

  • Be prepared in case a similar opportunity comes your way out of the blue (researcher found me via apdo-uk directory) 
  • I had written some prompt notes on some plain postcards....didn't look at them but the preparation was useful.  Next time I'd try to look at them!
  • Be prepared for the presenter to interrupt you frequently so you have to get your points across straight away!  Be like politicians, plan what points you want to get across and say them anyway, never mind the question!  I regret not having these really well prepared and ready to fire back at him.   Suggest we should all rehearse these and have answers to hand   "who needs to declutter?"  "5 benefits of decluttering" , "3 reasons to hire a professional"...."recycle, donate, not landfill"....  "Why/when/for whom is clutter a problem?"  "How does it work?"
  • When you eventually get a chance to plug your website, take your time and mention clearly the name of your business first, and then give the website address, so the listeners hear the name twice.  If you can plug the apdo-uk directory as well that would be even better.  I'm sorry I didn't manage to do this!  
Some tips from Jenny

A couple of Autumn Tips:

  1. Next time you're trying to find space in your wardrobe to put things away, grab an armful of clothes that you haven't worn for ages and try them on in front of a full length mirror.  Think in terms of outfits, like you would in a shop.  What would you wear with it?  Have you got shoes that go with it? Is it practical?  Does it still suit you and your CURRENT shape and size?  Put the garments you would want to buy  back into circulation again and donate the rest.
  2. Cull your recipe books!  How many have you got that you only keep for that one occasional recipe that you like?  Why not scan or copy out that page and get rid of the book?

Thought for the day - and for your clients!  

You don't have to get rid of things you love or need - you just have to determine what those things are.

Enjoy the autumn!
The APDO team



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