Volunteers help remove 27 tonnes of rubbish from home of York hoarder: ‘I can’t thank them enough’

What they found in Sylvie's home. Photograph: Community Bees
3 Dec 2020 @ 7.45 am
| News

A York group have transformed the life of a woman whose home had become overrun with rubbish.

The woman, called Sylvie, was reduced to wearing nappies and incontinence pads because she was unable to access her bathroom.

Sylvie, who is in her 60s, had not let anyone into her home for 20 years.

Photograph: Community Bees

She was living in a small space at the top of the stairs, surrounded by five or six feet of rubbish in all three bedrooms. Rubbish was piled down the stairs, along the hall and into the kitchen.

Piles of hoarded items also filled the two downstairs living rooms.

She had not put any waste out into her dustbin for over a decade. Sylvie said: “The rooms were really bad from floor-to-ceiling – you couldn’t get into the house really.

“I slept on top of the rubbish, I only had use of the bathroom if I clambered over the rubbish, and I had no kitchen as I couldn’t get to it.  I didn’t have a sink, I couldn’t get to my fridge or my freezer.”

Then her neighbours intervened.

House now a home

Sylvie and her helpers. Photograph: Community Bees

Neighbours Craig and Sarah noticed that she never put her dustbin out for collection, and would spend hours just sitting on her front doorstep.

They started talking to her, and Sylvie explained she was suffering from depression – and eventually let them in to her house.

The neighbours got in touch with Community Bees, a community interest company run by Michaela Shaw, which provides activities and support for some of York’s most marginalised people.

Fundraising campaign

Community Bees is running a £3,000 crowdfunder, to reduce isolation and loneliness and improve the wellbeing of people all over York.

You can donate here.

Some of what was removed. Photograph: Community Bees

Over the course of a week, Michaela, volunteer Pauline and neighbours donned PPE and visited Sylvie’s house every day to clear it of rubbish and hoarded items. Three large skips were needed and a huge 27 tonnes of waste was removed. 

Sylvie’s house is now clear and clean. New floorboards are down, the bathroom, her bedroom and living space are all tidy and easily accessed and a new oven, kitchen sink and units are all in place. 

Michaela visits Sylvie each week for an hour to see how she is coping and to have a chat.

Sylvie said: “I cannot thank Michaela and Pauline enough, and they still come and see me and help me every week. They don’t just come and see me, we chat, laugh and enjoy each other’s company, you can just give them a ring and they are there for you.

“There’s not enough words in this world to say how much they’ve helped me and if people are suffering like me, get in contact with Community Bees you’ll never regret it, you will not regret it at all.”

Read the full story on the Community Bees website