Time to reminisce whilst de-cluttering

The Attic Project is an innovative partnership project between Care & Repair and VCS Cymru. The project supports older people to organise their personal possessions so that they can live as independently as possible.

There is a growing recognition that the possessions we accumulate over time can be a major obstacle when it comes to downsizing or allowing access for key repairs, adaptations and improvements that make our homes safe and comfortable.

Through our specialist caseworker and volunteers, the Attic Project supports older people to sort through or dispose of their possession in a way that is good for them and good for the environment. Through making space, key adaptations and repairs can take place that help people to keep warm, reduce the risk of falls or provide better accessibility to the home. It also means people are better able to move to a more appropriate home, reducing the stress of downsizing.

Sorting through possessions can bring back a lot of memories and letting go of them can be challenging. Our volunteers support older people through reminiscence. Having the opportunity to record and talk about the stories behind possessions can be an empowering process, reducing feelings of social isolation and improving wellbeing.

One of The Attic Projects first clients is Mrs Naomi Roberts (83yrs) who lives alone in Newport. She had had a number of falls, the worst of which was a fall in her garden where she injured her head.

Mrs Roberts contacted Care & Repair who fitted handrails throughout the garden and house and are currently in the process of converting her conservatory/utility room into a downstairs bathroom with a level access shower. The conservatory/utility room had cupboards full of her possessions, mostly her flower arranging materials. She needed to clear the room to enable the conversion building work to take place. Just the thought of this task was causing her a lot of stress; she couldn’t sleep because she felt overwhelmed by what to do with her things. “I felt terrified at the thought of having to get rid of 40 years’ worth of flower arranging material, but I know it had to go. I was really panicking about what to do”.

The Attic Project provided a volunteer, Rob, to support Mrs Roberts and they started going through her cupboards on their first meeting.

Rob helped Naomi to sort through her possession and she made decisions about how each item was disposed of and where they went. Her flower arranging materials went to a local flower arranging group who will be able to make good use of them. They also found other possessions, such as sheet music, which reminded her of her past. Naomi had the time to chat with Rob about her memories.

Mrs Roberts says: “I just wouldn’t have been able to go through with the conversion if it wasn’t for the Attic Project helping me sort through all my items and helping me decide how best to dispose of them.”