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Age UK encourages nation to clear the clutter

Age UK encourages nation to clear the clutter and support the Big Bag Challenge

Professional organiser Vicky Silverthorn and actress Lesley Joseph get behind Age UK's autumn stock appeal to help raise funds for older people

As the days begin to get shorter and the temperature starts to drop, it's time to take up sanctuary indoors making autumn the perfect time to get our homes in order.

Tackling clutter is one of the main jobs of a seasonal clean, which will not only help get homes prepared for winter occasions, but according to experts, can also be good for wellbeing.

Age UK is urging people to take part in an autumn clear out to support the Charity's annual Big Bag Challenge. Kicking off on October 8th, The Big Bag Challenge aims to help Age UK reach a target of 100,000 bags of goods in just one month to help its ships raise much needed funds for the Charity's work supporting older people.

Vicky Silverthorn, a Professional Organiser and owner of You Need a Vicky, a professional organising and de-cluttering service, says: "With many of us leading busy lives it can be hard to keep our homes as clean and organised as we would like. However, disorder in our homes can leave is feeling overwhelmed, anxious and distracted. Clutter in particular, can impact our lives by stealing our focus and affecting our energy levels.

"It doesn't take much to be overrun with items that have kept the family entertained over summer- and that doesn't include all the other items we often hang on to! This makes autumn a brilliant time to give you home a deep clean and clear out the clutter. The failing temperatures mean we begin to spend more time indoors and with Christmas just around the corner, the prospect of family and friends criticising is more likely!

"The Big Bag Challenge is a great way to keep your home clear of any unwanted items and also means you will be helping Age UK support older people across the country, Check out my top tips to help get your autumn clean underway." See these at the bottom of the page

Actress Lesley Joseph, best known for her role as Dorian in Birds of a Feather, has also got behind Age UK's Big Bag Challenge and donated a designer handbag worn by her on-screen character. Lesley said; "If you live in a tidy space, it somehow clears your mind too. The autumn is the perfect time to have a seasonal clear out and get ahead for Christmas, which is why I have donated a special Ted Baker handbag to Age UK as part of The Big Bag Challenge. Not only am I helping to keep my home clutter free, but my donation will also help raise money for the Charity to continue supporting older people."

The bag donated by Lesley will be available to view at the Age UK Altrincham shop in Cheshire from 8th October. People interested in purchasing the bad will be able to put in a secret bid at the shop which is based at 13 Regent Road, Altrincham, WA14 1RY, with the highest bidder revealed and selected on 3 November, the last day of the Challenge.

People can take part in The Big Bag Challenge by donating their unwanted goods to their local Age UK shop. All types of quality goods are welcome, including clothing, shoes, books,, accessories and homewards, all of which are sold on to be loved again. Every bag donated will help raise much-needed funds for the Charity, helping to continue it's vital work by providing companionship, support and advice, as well as a free national advice line (open 365 days a year) and vital campaigning work.

Age UK's Head of Retail Operations, Steve Woolridge dais: "Our shops are reliant on kind donations from the public, which is why Age UK is urging the nation to get behind The Big Bag Challenge. Not only will you benefit from a clean and organised house as the winter months and festive season take hold, but you will be helping to raise vital funds to support older people."

With almost 400 Age UK shops across the UK, taking part couldn't be easier- go to for more information and to find a local store. 

Vicky Silverthorn's top tips for an autumn clean and declutter:

1. Tackle unused spacesSome of the easiest places for clutter to build up are unused spaces such as the loft, garage or spare room. These spaces are a god place to start your autumn clean, making it easier to store sports equipment, garden furniture and other thingsthat aren't going to be used or needed over the winter months.

2. Swap and store seasonal essentials- The arrival of autumn means it's time to put away your summer clothes and linens. Replace your summer dresses and sandals, with winter woollies and coats, and your summer bed linen with a heavier duvet and cosy throws to make it more inviting. Store away items in secure containers and don't forget the moth prevention (chemical free sachets and sprays are perfect) if you are storing them at the back of the wardrobe. Don't be afraid to get rid of items that no longer fit or you no longer wear- bag them up and donate them to you nearest Age UK charity shop.

3. Declutter as you go- Putting away seasonal clothing is the perfect time to declutter. The more items you get rid of that you don't actually wear or are unsure about, the more space you will be saving by not storing them.

4. Think practically- If you are finding it hard making a decision on what to keep and what to let go of the question which will make all the difference is, 'Can I live without this?' It's interesting to think about if you didn't own it anymore would you miss it? Here and now- day to day would you even notice?

5. Beat the bacteria- Wash any bedding on a hot wash to kill any bacteria and dust mites before storing away for winter. Carpets can also be cleaned either professionally or by using products suitable for the type in question- always check before using! Steam cleaners are brilliant for fighting germs on many surfaces.

6- It's a family affair- Having a clear out might seem daunting so get everybody involved! Get the kids to do their rooms and set a target, for example five toys get rid of. Always bring positivity into the equation- 'That's five new toys for other children!' This can be encouraged as making room for Christmas and will prevent unused toys and games building up. Donate any unwanted toys to your nearest Age UK shop to be loved again!

7- Getting winter ready- While spending time indoors can also be cosy, it also means that there is more chance for dust to collect, so now is the time to make sure everything is as clean as possible. Make sure you dust behind furniture and in those hard to reach corners! The change in weather can also make condensation and dirty windows more likely. Cleaning the glass on both the inside and out will prevent build up.

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