Sylvie’s story shines light on UK-wide suffering as desperate people contact us for help

Sylvie recently shared her own very personal story with us, and the nation.
Her story about how her depression and circumstances found her living, for decades, amongst her own rubbish and hoarded clutter, unable to cook or even get into her own bedroom to sleep.  
And how we, along side some neighbourly volunteers, spent a full week clearing out 27 tonnes – 3 skips’ worth – of accumulated waste from her house.
The starting point to us helping her to put her home, and her life, back together.

Sharing her story was not easy for Sylvie. 

But in doing so, she wanted to raise awareness of thousands of other people across the country suffering in similar circumstances to herself. 

She also wanted people to know she had turned her life around. 

“If you own your own property, and find yourself unable to cope with it, there is not any support from the Council or other support organisations, like there would be if it was a Council house. 
People won’t even enter the property if there is clutter. 
Michaela from Community Bees was the only person who offered to help. Her support has changed my life.” 

Michaela Shaw, who runs Community Bees, now wants to establish how many other people are suffering in a similar way. 

Since the story hit the national headlines – The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Mirror all covered it – people from all over the country have been in touch desperate for help. 

Reading the story brought glimmers of hope to family members who see their loved one in a similar situation, but don’t know where to turn. 

One young man was sobbing on the phone to Michaela after he had paid a surprise visit to his Dad only to find he couldn’t get in through the front door for clutter. His Dad had insisted for years that he should be the one to visit his family in their homes, little did they know that this was because he was living in squalor. 

Another worried family member, a lady from Croydon, wrote to Community Bees saying

 “Ive heard about the things youre doing up North and wonder if you know of any similar organisations in Croydon please? I really dont know where to start and I have a 61-year-old cousin who really needs support. Im 75 and do as much as I can but she needs so much more help than I can give.”
Supporting people like this saves the NHS thousands

Supporting people in these circumstances not only turns their lives around, it also saves the NHS thousands. 

People living like this are constantly unwell, both mentally and physically, and regularly in need of their GP, Care services and hospitals with problems directly associated with the way they live. 

Community Bees do not just clear and clean houses so that the person can live safely and independently again, they carry on a social connection, crucial advice and guidance, and provide activities that bring purpose to the individual’s life. 

Community Bees improve the total wellbeing of the people they support, encouraging them to eat well, take exercise, partake in activities and reintroduce friendships.  All of which improves mental and physical health, reduces loneliness and isolation, lowers obesity and likelihood of disease, and decreases those expensive demands on the NHS. 

Michaela from Community Bees said:

“The outcomes from the work we have done with Sylvie, and other people in a similar position to her, is amazing.
We see people blossom again after years of struggle, depression and poor health.
And our intervention prevents the NHS having to spend thousands on further support.”
And what of Sylvie? 

Michaela visits her on a weekly basis to see how she is doing.

She is cooking for herself again, and looking after herself too. She has set herself a goal to cycle to Selby and back on a drive to lose weight.

Sylvie enjoys crocheting, a creative hobby, now easy to do in her new-found space.

After decades of misery, Sylvie really values the regular company and having a laugh again. 

“Her life has turned around completely.” 

Support us to support others like Sylvie

If you know of people in and around York who seem isolated and have stopped caring for their home and garden, let Community Bees know by emailing Michaela at or messaging her on Facebook or Twitter 

Read more of Our Stories about the support Community Bees give. 

If you want to make a donation to support others in this situation – Donate to our Just Giving Crowdfunder