Following a stroke in 2015 and a series of health problems, Richard was in hospital at the age of 77 in an end of life care unit. To help Richard to return home, Attic Project Volunteers supported his family to make space for a downstairs bedroom. His wife Katharine explains;
"Before Richard could be discharged from hospital, he needed a bedroom downstairs and space for his chair to be wheeled through the kitchen to the living room.
"However, we had accumulated a lot of possessions. We got great comfort from them and kept things 'just in case'. The rooms were full to the ceiling. I have health difficulties of my own which affect my mobility, so clearing space felt like an overwhelming task; I didn't know where to start.
"Richard's Occupational Therapist referred us to Care & Repair. Cerris, a Specialist Caseworker from Care & Repair, visited to discuss how the Attic Project could support us. I was nervous about letting people in the house and worried what people would think. Cerris was non-judgemental and understanding which made me feel at ease.
"I was paired up with two volunteers, Karl & Tammy. They were funny, it was like friends coming around. For young people, they had so much empathy. They didn't make me chuck anything out, but they made me want to.
"Decluttering with them brought up a lot of memories from the past. I found sentimental things from when the children were young, and photos of Richard's family which we're going to make into a collage.
"After Karl & Tammy finished their university volunteering placement, I was paired with Rob. He didn't judge and never made me feel ashamed.
"We disposed of furniture, DVDs, kitchen utensils and lots more. We passed on thirty mugs from the back room to a homeless shelter. The charity wanted the mugs so people had something to drink their tea out of. Knowing that things were going to a good cause made it easier to let go of them.
Richard could return home
"Since the volunteers have helped us, I am much more comfortable having people visit the house. I feel like I've been trained in Rob's ways. He would ask me 'do you need this?' and I would decide whether it went in the 'charity', 'keep' or 'recycle' pile. He has helped me to feel more able to declutter my home and I try to remove a bag of possessions every day now.
"Now Richard has a bedroom downstairs with access for carers to hoist him to a chair and assist him to the living room. Having Richard home is everything to us, it's so important. It means he can spend his remaining time in the comfort of his own home surrounded by his family.
"Without the Attic Project, Richard wouldn't have been able to come back home, he would most likely have gone into a care home. I don't think I could have done it on my own."