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What is Hoarding?

A hoarding disorder is where someone acquires an excessive number of items and stores them in a chaotic manner. The items can be of little or no monetary value and usually result in unmanageable amounts of clutter. It's considered to be a significant problem if:

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  • The amount of clutter interferes with everyday living – for example, the person is unable to use their kitchen or bathroom and cannot access rooms
  • The clutter is causing significant distress or negatively affecting the person's quality of life or their family's – for example, they become upset if someone tries to clear the clutter and their relationships with others suffer.

People with hoarding disorder often don't see it as a problem, making treatment challenging. Others may realise that they have a problem, but are reluctant to seek help because they feel extremely ashamed, humiliated or guilty about it. People who hoard have little awareness of how it's impacting their life or the lives of others.

It's really important to encourage a person who is hoarding to seek help, as their difficulties discarding objects can not only cause loneliness and mental health problems, but also pose a health and safety risk. If not tackled, it's a problem that will probably never go away, and will put the person at further significant risk of harm.

The Cornwall Hoarding Protocol is a multi-agency framework which helps to facilitate better partnership working, to reduce hoarding and its wider effects on people’s health, safety, social and environmental impacts. The protocol offers clear guidance to staff and managers who work to aid those with hoarding issues on how the needs of those people should be addressed.

Partners to the protocol:

  • Cornwall Council
  • Cornwall Housing
  •  Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service
  • Devon and Cornwall Police
  • South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust
  • NHS Kernow Trust
  • Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Cornwall Foundation Trust
  • Coastline Housing

If you have any queries regarding hoarding or you have concerns for a family member or neighbour, please contact the Access Team 0300 1234 131 or email

You can also complete the online free home fire safety check form, call the free 24hr fire safety helpline on 0800 3581 999 or contact us at St. Austell Community Fire station on 01726 223620.