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Meet Devon’s clutter buster Jasmine Sleigh

PUBLISHED: 09:22 24 January 2014 | UPDATED: 10:55 28 January 2014

Jasmine Sleigh.  Picture by Matt Austin

Jasmine Sleigh. Picture by Matt Austin

MATT AUSTIN

Is your house full of clutter? help may be at hand, writes KATHRYN SMITH

Jasmine’s Top Tips for Getting Organised in the New Year

1.Focus on a specific area such as one room or an area of a room, eg the wardrobe. Take one step at a time and prove to yourself what you can do.

2.Set a timer to work in a time frame that suits you. It helps to segment the task into half hour or hour slots so you can see progress. Most decluttering sessions are around three hours with someone there to motivate you. On your own, 40 minutes is more realistic.

3.Make sure that time is yours to focus on organising that space. Turn off your mobile. Schedule the time and make sure people know you are busy that morning or afternoon.

4.Be kind to yourself, go in with a comforting cup of tea in hand and have a reward for your efforts in mind. You do not need to be harsh with yourself and throw everything out. Reorganising and storing items well can make much more living space. However charity shops and recycling centres will be glad of things you no longer want or need.

5.Think of your requirements and needs so that your living space reflects who you are and your interests. You want a comfortable and functional home where you can have fun with family and friends.

A CLUTTER-busting mum with a passion for possessions has launched an unusual new business which is transforming homes across Devon.

Change Your Space is the brainchild of professional declutterer, Jasmine Sleigh from Exmouth.

In the 12 months since its launch the 37-year-old has tackled everything from designer shoes rammed into rafters to a house so full of possessions the front door could not be opened.

It is a job even she did not know existed but within a few months of its creation, Change Your Space had amassed a large client base throughout the county.

“Homes are fascinating places. Anything to do with belongings, then I’m involved,” she said.

Organising and decluttering is a new profession. Jasmine says it is not exclusive or expensive and clients come from all walks of life.

As well as turning garages into playrooms and spare rooms into offices and studios, Jasmine has helped people with hoarding disorders, archived 30 years of paperwork and taught children how to sort and rehome toys.

In an average home 30 per cent of the contents are considered clutter. Yet, there is still a reluctance to ask for help. Jasmine said: “People think nothing of hiring a painter or getting a cleaner, but with decluttering there is still a culture of embarrassment. It is much more personal.”

A former senior information manager with a postgraduate qualification in leadership and organisation, Jasmine went on to train as a counsellor.

She said she found herself caught somewhere between the two and following suggestions from family members she had helped move house, did some research and found APDO - The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers.

She said: “I discovered there were about 100 people out there doing a job I didn’t even know existed. It seemed to be the perfect marriage of my skills so I contacted them and decided to give it a whirl.”

Keen to relocate back to the West Country after growing up in Somerset, Jasmine moved from Lincoln to Exmouth and launched the business. She started a series of talks and workshops and discovered a real need for the service.

“Like all things there is a profession out there where someone can come in and tackle the issue for you. But this is very much based on trust,” she said.

“It is a practical job but there is also an emotional element in some cases which is where my counselling comes in as well. You have to be kind and empathic and put yourself in the client’s shoes, not just bulldoze in and put everything in the rubbish.

“One woman I worked with had a huge fur coat which was her mother’s. She had no use for it, and it turned out she hated it, but some people just want the permission to let things go.

“I am neutral, they set the pace, and I try and find an appropriate balance of challenge and support.”

Most of Jasmine’s cases can be dealt with in a three to four hour session, some need periodic support and others are more long term.

Jasmine was the first person to visit one client’s home in North Devon in nearly five years.

She said: “One of our first tasks was to clear a path from the front door into the house and make it safe. No-one had realised that she couldn’t open the door properly or make a cup of tea because she couldn’t get to the kettle.

“She was a chronic hoarder who suffered from some health problems as well and couldn’t get on top of day to day rubbish.

“It is really brave to ask for help, especially in this type of case.”

Jasmine works alongside other agencies, including the fire and rescue service, to help people in desperate situations as they are often socially isolated and can find themselves in homes that become dangerously full.

She said: “I don’t judge and I’m not for minimalistic living, it is all about making life more comfortable and enjoyable. What is joyous is when people find something they thought was lost.

“I worked with one lady who stored all her clothes in the loft, including her day to day wear. There were beautiful things there and I found designer shoes crammed in the rafters.

“It was an expensive clothing collection, she had invested so much in these wonderful things that were not being seen or enjoyed. We turned her spare room into a dressing room.”

Jasmine says every person and every case is unique as are the reasons for making a change. She tackles the issues swiftly and efficiently so people can “reclaim their living space”.

“I want people to enjoy and celebrate important and useful belongings.”

She added: “Fifteen years ago it was unusual to have a wedding planner, now it’s not. People have much busier lives today.

“A professional organiser and declutterer is an unusual service, especially in this part of the country, but give it a few years and it will be mainstream.”

For more information call 07739 455310 or visit changeyourspace.co.uk

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