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more than decluttering: jennifer owen, 2021

Welcome to this beautifully presented, readable, inspiring and humbling research report. It relates the impact of a project where trained volunteers assisted older people in tackling their clutter. The results are hopeful and encouraging – here’s to more Attic Projects all over the world.

I’ve been privileged to meet one of the volunteers who took part in the Attic Project recently. Her whole face lights up when she talks of her experience.

As the first free decluttering service in Wales, and one of only four identified in the UK, the Attic Project – a partnership project between Care & Repair Cymru and Safer Wales and funded by the National Lottery Community Fund – occupied a unique space between housing, social care, well-being and, health service provision.

Often filling in as the ‘missing link’ between services, helping older people to declutter has the possibility to minimise risks of falls and fires, enable adaptations and repairs needed to make a home environment safer and more age-appropriate, speed up safe hospital discharges, and improve feelings of comfort and satisfaction.

This report presents insights from interviews with Attic Project decluttering volunteers, and develops an understanding of the issues surrounding older people and clutter, but also the practicalities of addressing them as a volunteer organisation.

More Than Decluttering

I will always be grateful to Dr Jen Owen for teaching me the phrase ‘academic kindness’. Jen made contact with me as soon as she became aware of my own research and we met for coffee. We discovered a mutual passion for clutter as a research topic. We determined  to support each other – and any other clutter researchers – in furthering research and attention to this crucial topic.

Jen has now moved from Cardiff University to Kings College London. She and I continue to see each other – and other clutter researchers regularly on zoom. Watch this space for Jen’s future clutter research.

“You are born to this work, you do it skilfully and with sensitivity, warmth and levity. I am grateful for your time yesterday, it has been a catalyst for my moving forward in my creativity and in my career.”

– d, s london


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