The Clutter Coach - A TV Show about hoarding
I'm Clare Baker from Banbury, Oxfordshire, and I've got a great idea for a TV show. It's called A Hoarders Journey. It's about following a hoarder on their journey from cluttered to clutter-free without the need for people to come to their home to help them do it, or for them or have a blitz.
So in each episode, we would follow the hoarder on their seven-step journey from four key perspectives.
That of the hoarder, that of the therapist who supports them as their anxiety inevitably increases because their journey forces them to confront the buried issues and emotions contained in their clutter.
From the perspective of the friends, family, support workers of the hoarder who are helping them on their journey.
From the perspective of the clutter coach, that's me, who is providing the seven-step, clutter-clearing journey that they are following.
I know this would make a great show because all the hoarding programmes that are on TV at the moment both now and in the past have simply been fly-on-the-wall programmes that watch the hoarder get pressurised to have a blitz.
This show would see a hoarder not being pressurised to get rid of stuff but being empowered to get back control themselves.
The seven-step journey was developed by me Clare Baker, a former clutterholic and borderline hoarder myself.
With an estimated, 1.2 million hoarders in the UK, hoarders and clutterholics and friends and family of hoarders need to see a programme that is made by someone who understands that hoarding is not dealing with the stuff.
It's about dealing with the emotions and the feelings that are tied up in the stuff. So that's my idea. I hope you like it.
Anyone can send an audio pitch to the podcast. I haven't met Claire. Her pitch just landed in my inbox and you know what? I like it.
For starters, Claire sounds like someone you could put on TV. She's already working in the clutter-clearing space, so to speak. So has access to people with a hoarding problem.
And then there's the bit I'm really intrigued by. She calls herself a borderline clutterholic. Time to meet Claire. Let's give her a bell.
Why do you want to make a TV show?
Um, every year I get contacted by hoarding programmes wanting essentially to get access to my clients for their programmes. And when I say to them, Well, how were you planning to help them? Essentially, it's another blitz and the blitz approach doesn't work for many reasons, both psychological and practical.
So I turned down being involved with hoarding TV programmes for many years. And I think it's about time that there was a respectful one that actually followed what's involved with managing and succeeding at clearing your clutter so that hoarders and clutterholics alike actually can see that it can be done in a way where they're not being forced to get rid of stuff and in a way that enables them to do it a final time so that they become free forever.
Now I've been dying to ask you this. You describe yourself as a borderline clutterholic. What's your story?
So my story is that back on Millennium Eve, I was sitting around a table at a party in a church hall with family and reflecting on my life at that point at the age of 27 thinking this is not where I thought I was gonna be with my life.
I had somewhat assumed that by that point I would be married. Maybe a couple of kids, you know, half a dog in the Labrador.
I had a job that I didn't particularly enjoy, it wasn't going anywhere. And I thought, is this really it for the rest of my life?
I realised that my clutter, the physical clutter that I had in my home was symbolic of the clutter that I was experiencing in my life and in my head.
I wanted to move on with my life, not only was I gonna have to figure out what I actually wanted my life to be like, but I was gonna have to deal with this physical, visible clutter in my home.
I realised that I couldn't blitz it anymore. I couldn't carry on creating piles, weeding out the piles moving the parts from corner to corner, room to room and trying to hide the piles in storage solutions, blitzing it, all of them, all of the methods that everybody uses to try to do it.
I realised I couldn't carry on spending the rest of my life doing that because the clutter always grew back. I never dealt with the problem. So, I realised I was gonna have to, you know, really get to the root of the problem.
I was trying to deal with the symptom, which is the visible clutter that you can see. But I needed to go to the root of the problem. That was the cause, and that was the clutter that was in my head. This fear of letting go of my stuff, actually moving on with my life and figuring out if I don't have the cutter, what do I want instead?
So that was the point when you realised you had a problem. When did you start helping other people with their problems?
Once I'd cleared my clutter because I had to obviously figure out OK, how am I going to do this? Because if I'm not going to do the blitzes, the weeding, the moving, storing the reorganising, how am I actually going to do with this cutter?
So it took me two years to clear my clutter to figure out how to do it and then doing a little and often because I didn't want it to take over my life completely.
At the end of that, I thought, Hey, that's worked And I've broken old habits. I created new habits. I've dealt with the cause so that I know that the cutter won't grow back again.
So I thought, OK, well, actually, I've always liked helping people. That's always been my thing. My first ever job was with the British Red Cross.
So I thought, well, let's just see if this works for other people. So I put an advert in a local magazine. I named it Life Laundry because at the time, there was a TV programme called Life Laundry, which involved skips and crushers and things.
I got a couple of people who contacted me, saying, yes I'd like your services and I essentially shared with them the method that I had used to clear my own clutter.
It worked for them as well!. Then, by-virtue-of-that, it kind of grew. I cashed in savings. My parents had bought some shares and Eurotunnel. I cashed them in to pay for my first website so that I could go wider with it.
That was when I started to get hoarders that we're approaching me. When they tried it, it worked for them as well. So it just kind of grew organically from me, wanting to share my success so that other people who had struggled for years had hope.
Let's just go back to your view on decluttering and hoarding TV shows, which is very much that kind of skip-it approach. You know, Chuck it all out for the cameras. Why do you feel that this does people a disservice? How would your show differ from those shows?
My show would be about guiding and supporting people as they take back control themselves. I've had enough people come to me having been on the TV programmes and said. I had people in, you know, we essentially did a blitz. They were here for a week, two weeks. We cleared some stuff and it's now back and worse. I don't know what to do.
They've realised from having had that experience of essentially having helped to have a blitz that it doesn't change anything, it may visibly clear some of the clutter.
It may get some of their clutter out of their home and create a little bit of space, but because it's a bit like a crash diet is too much too fast and because it hasn't worked with your brain and the way that you make decisions and the things that you do and the habits that you have, it doesn't deal with the cause.
It only focuses on this on the symptoms.
So because they haven't dealt with the cause of their clutter in these programmes, it's never a lasting change.
When I work with people, one of the basic first things I explained to them is that your home is like a conveyor belt. Things come into your home and onto the conveyor belt. They travel along the conveyor belt.
Then Some of the things stay on the conveyor belt on and some of the things come off your conveyor belt.
The trouble with the hoarding programmes that are on TV right now, both here and in the US is that they concentrate on getting things off that conveyor belt and then reorganising things on the conveyor belt.
They're not actually teaching people how to make decisions about what comes off their conveyor belt, but they are also not dealing with what's coming onto the conveyor belt, which is where the cutter is coming from.
Okay, Clare, I'm gonna play your idea to some TV insiders for their feedback. Are you excited about what they are going to say?
Throwing stuff into a skip or a dumpster is a big feature of existing hoarding shows. That's because it's the money shot. Those pictures go into trailers, pre-title sequences commissioners demand them and audiences want to see them.
So will Claire's vision work? She wants to explore people's emotions about their junk. It's less, well, televisual.
I'm gonna help Claire get her idea in shape and give it some air time.
Coming up next, the experts past their verdict. Who are they? We've gotta series and edit producer with two decades of experience, she's worked on dozens of hit shows, including Bake Off and Master Chef. It's Joe Wolf.
We always need to think about when we're making a TV show is how is this visual?
It can't just be lots of different conversations between different people.
Also, the co-owner of one of the UK is fastest growing production companies, he exec produce the vintage motoring show Bangers and Cash. Yesterday channel's most successful show ever. It's Matt Richards.
On the one hand, you think, actually, perhaps the world's had enough of hoarding type shows, but on the other, you start saying, Well, actually it's clearly popular. And if there's a new way of doing it than it's worth looking at.
Their advice coming up and stay tuned because Claire's idea, spoiler alert, well, something great happens.
I didn't expect it to get to this point.
If you've got a great idea, just search Pitch a TV show Podcast for my guide on submitting your idea.
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