Daughters' heartbreak after hoarder's York home destroyed in fire

The daughters of a compulsive hoarder have spoken of the heartbreaking impact of the condition after a fire destroyed their father's home.

Barry Tordoff, 76, had lived in his house in York for around 30 years before it was ravaged by a fire, made worse by his hoarding disorder.

His daughters, Karen McKinley and Jane Yates, said they were unaware of how severe his condition had become until the fire, because it was hidden behind closed doors.

Ms Yates told ITV News: "We weren't fully aware of the extent of the hoarding, but we came in after the fire and the house was stacked floor to ceiling, full of everything.

"It was shocking to see."

Ms McKinley added: "When you went into the bathroom, the shower was full. You could literally only use the toilet.

"It was awful, really awful, and just so sad that it had come to that."

Mr Tordoff was left with serious burn injuries to his hands after a chip pan in his kitchen caught fire on 12 April, 2023. He has since had to move into a caravan.

Barry Tordoff's daughters said his condition was hidden behind closed doors. Credit: ITV News

He told ITV News: "It's not very pleasant in the little caravan, it really isn't - but I'm just grateful to still be here.

"I was a hoarder, I'll be perfectly honest. It crept up on me. I didn't realise how bad I was getting.

"I'm going to change a hell of a lot now. It's just nice to see a little bit of floor space."

Ms McKinley added that seeing her father unable to live in his house is "absolutely heartbreaking".

She said: "He's deteriorating every time we see him.

"His mental health is really suffering at the moment and it's affecting the whole family, not just my dad. It's just awful."

Mr Tordoff and his daughters were speaking out to raise awareness for the disorder, in the hope that it will reduce the stigma and help others.

Ms Yates said: "There's very little awareness until you're in that situation.

"We need to get that point across that there are people who haven't had the support we had."

Her sister added: "It is a mental illness, you don't just wake up and your house is full of boxes and paper. There's an emotional trigger.

"There's a reason why our dad has done what he's done over months and years.

"People are embarrassed, there's so much stigma attached to it."

Mr Tordoff's daughters said his bathroom was unusable.

What is hoarding disorder?

Hoarding disorder is a mental health condition where someone collects an excessive number of items and stores them in a way that leads to unmanageable amounts of clutter.

According to the NHS, it is especially challenging to treat because people are often reluctant to seek help due to the stigma around it.

It can be associated with other mental health conditions such as severe depression, schizophrenia and OCD.

The clutter caused by hoarding disorder is a fire risk and can increase the risk of vermin infestations.

Paul Cooper, from Hoarding Disorders UK, said: "There's always some kind of trigger that starts hoarding. Bereavement is the biggest, but it might be the loss of a marriage or the loss of a job. It's about filling that void.

"Some people might turn to alcohol, some to drugs, or some to an eating disorder. Others turn to hoarding."

Mr Tordoff has been supported by the York-based charity Community Bees. It is the only charity in Yorkshire set up to help people with hoarding disorder.

The charity, founded by Michaela Shaw, is spending £30,000 to clear his house and then repair it.

Previously, Mr Tordoff's daughters had organised skips to come to the house and tried to clear the clutter themselves.

However, they would often find that their father had gone outside and taken the items out of the skip and moved them back into the house.

Ms Shaw taught the family that this is part of the mental health condition, and that tackling the issue is much more complex than simply clearing out the items.

Ms McKinley said: "We were at our wits end we didn't know where to turn.

"Michaela is dad's lifeline. She provided emotional support for all of us - I ring her and I cry down the phone to her."

Mr Tordoff said that Community Bees has been an "absolutely brilliant" support for him.

Ms Shaw set up Community Bees almost five years ago. She says she's inundated with referrals every single day, including from the NHS, but there isn't enough funding to help everybody.

She told ITV News: "If we can get more funding, we can save lives and we can save the NHS and the council hundreds of thousands of pounds."

Ms McKinley added: "The pot's empty for Michaela and there's so many families out there in the situation we are in. She just can't help them all."

Community Bees received £20,000 of funding from the council, but Ms Shaw says this "doesn't even touch the sides".

She's hoping for more funding so she can continue to help more families in York and around Yorkshire.

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