Decluttering Devon: Jasmine Sleigh, Professional Organiser
I can’t get enough of TV programmes about decluttering: that glimpse into other people’s lives and living habits; the link that gets uncovered between past life events and hoarding habits; the magic that the professional declutters work, and the happy ending of houses and lives transformed by the process. Epic stuff!
So I was delighted to meet with Devon’s very own professional organiser Jasmine Sleigh, to find out more about the reality of decluttering. What exactly does the job entail and is it the same as it is on the telly?
Jasmine runs Change Your Space, a professional organising service registered with the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers UK (APDOuk). You’ll notice I said Change Your Space is an organising service – Jasmine told me that she does not like the words declutterer, decluttering or even clutter, because it has a perjorative tone, insensitive to the fact that this ‘clutter’ is someone’s personal belongings, and may once have been cherished and a bit part of their lives.
I was certainly struck by Jasmine’s sensitivity to the individual and their feelings in her accounts of the work she does. She works with clients on all ends of the ‘clutter’ spectrum, from serious hoarders whose inability to throw anything out is putting their lives at risk – Jasmine works with the Fire and Rescue Service and other agencies to help make such homes safe – to those who just lead busy lives and need a bit of help getting their houses and possessions in order. Each case is individual, and must be led by the client – Jasmine sees her job more as an enabler than someone who just comes in and takes charge.
And no, it’s not like on the telly. Where possessions and particularly papers have built up so high they cannot be moved in one fell swoop, but little by little, otherwise avalanches happen and the person gets left in a potentially more dangerous position than they were at the start of the process. There are also not so many tears or as much drama. Jasmine told me of TV producers urging for approaches that will make someone cry, as it makes good viewing, but in real life that does not really happen, as the organiser works empathetically with the client, and knows when to take a step back and when to push forward without upset. So all in all it is a much slower, gentler process.
That is not to say great results can not be achieved in a short time. Jasmine recommends that new clients book a three hour session with her, in which time tangible results can be achieved, and which also gives an insight into Jasmine’s working method. Unlike some organising companies, which require you to book a block of sessions, Jasmine is happy to offer one off sessions, as and when the client requires it.
Jasmine sees the service she offers as just that, a service, in the same sense as an ironing service, or booking a painter and decorator, or financial advice. Perhaps because of the TV programmes, people might have a sense of shame at booking a decluttering service, but Jasmine sets out to debunk these notions – people simply have busier lives, and more stuff than ever before, and just need help sometimes getting their homes and possessions in order, in a way that works for them.
Now I’ve gone through a decluttering journey myself now my children have grown up and left home, and I’ve moved from a family home to living in a flat, and think that I’m pretty good at it, ahem, but I do have my sticking points (books/old academic work). I asked Jasmine what she can offer that a person couldn’t do themselves. She explained how different it is working with other people’s belongings and homes than your own; being neutral allows you to see much more clearly what would make the biggest impact in terms of changing the space for the better. People get used to what they live with so much that they often can’t even see or know what they have, and sometimes a fresh pair of eyes is all that is needed.
It was certainly fascinating talking to Jasmine, and I wished I had more clutter so that I could invite her around for a session at mine. But if any of my readers in Devon or Cornwall are looking for some help in the decluttering/organising department, I thoroughly recommend you giving Jasmine a call (and coming back and letting me know how you got on!).
I also recommend you checking out a great interview with Jasmine on The Design Sheppard blog (a fab interior design blog, also based in the South West), and this video below tells you more about Jasmine and Change Your Space.
Thanks to Jasmine for inviting me to meet with her, and telling me all about Change Your Space and her work decluttering Devon and Cornwall. She can be contacted on 07739 455310 or email firstname.lastname@example.org