A day in the life – Jo Cooke from Hoarding Disorders UK and Tapioca Tidy

One of the many joys of my job is that I get to speak to interesting people all the time and they answer my questions about their working life.  I’ve been working with Jo Cooke for a while  – she is based near Newbury and is a professional declutterer. This work has also led her to co-found a charity for hoarders and their families who need her help and she is the author of a comprehensive book on the subject.

She is great to work with, always has interesting stories and makes such a difference to the lives of her clients. I thought it would be interesting to see what one of her typical days looks like…..



“First thing in the morning after the gym or a swim, I check online for any articles on hoarding and clutter to share on social media. I also have a look to see how my new book “Understanding Hoarding” is doing in the rankings.

“I then check my emails whilst eating breakfast and I usually have a few emails from people who would like advice so they can help someone they know who shows signs of hoarding. On average I also receive a referral from social services or a housing association.

“Each day is completely different but my daily routine always requires bin bags, rubble bags, recycling bags, my tip pass, a permanent marker pen, labels, plastic wallets, luggage tags and post-it notes in my decluttering bag. I also have a reminder to take plenty of water. I am helping folk with their decision making and it can be thirsty work.
Part of the services I offer as part of my organising and decluttering business Tapioca Tidy is to offer a ‘PA at home’ service.

“Sometimes I help clients with admin such as assistance with ensuring their bills are paid or helping people to label sheets and duvets in their linen cupboard so they can see at a glance what size the sheets are; single, double, fitted or king-size.

“I work with many families whose houses are cluttered and can therefore be a fire hazard. Many have problems such as Parkinsons and so progress can be slow so we need to be very gentle and patient. A sense of humour helps too!

“I am Director of Hoarding Disorders UK – a social enterprise that I co-founded after finding hoarding issues are fairly commonplace and very different to clutter issues.
I make regular trips to the recycling unit to drop off glass, paper and plastic and also to the charity shops in Thatcham to take in the clothes that I have decluttered that day. Part of my job is to take items away for either recycling or to donate to charity. It is a part of the service that I know my clients really value as many still have their bags for charity loitering in their hallways and car boots and many people are happier to let things go if they know they’re going to a good home.

“My next job is to think of a speaker for our support groups. We run a hoarding support group – one in Bracknell and one in Newbury. The Newbury group is free to attend and is supported by Greenham Trust; it takes place once a month on a Thursday evening from 7pm to 9pm at Broadway House in Newbury. The group offers support and advice, as well as a relevant speaker. I am thinking perhaps of asking another mindfulness coach to come and talk to the group.

“Many people ask me if my home is tidy and minimalist – to be honest it is not but I do know where everything is. One thing I am proud of is the empty shelf in the kitchen. Now the children have left home I don’t need as much food so actually enjoy looking at the empty shelf.

“I’m not sure if other declutterers feel the same.”



Does your business mean that you have an interesting routine  – I’d love to hear about it!

Neve’s Bees buzzing after launching new lip balm and hand salve ranges

  • Neve’s Bees launches premium beeswax lip balms and hand salves using 100% natural and organic ingredients
  • Eynsham-based company wins contract to supply Blenheim Palace shops


An Oxfordshire beekeeper’s newly-launched skincare product range has received a welcome boost after winning a contract to supply Blenheim Palace’s retail shops.

Neve’s Bees was launched in April by ‘deputy Queen Bee’ Julie Macken, aged 48, who has created a range of high-quality lip balms and hand salves. The company is named after Julie’s daughter Neve who, at the age of nine, asked if the family could keep bees.


With a degree in chemistry and a 20-year career in pharmaceutical marketing, Julie had long been pondering a need for more products made from pure, natural ingredients. She began to make products for presents for her friends and family and they proved so popular that in April, she made the business her full-time job.

From her garden and kitchen table, Julie has created a lip balm range and a hand salve range with further products in the pipeline.

She said: “Neve’s Bees products are 100% natural with no paraffin, no parabens or other artificial preservatives or emulsifiers, just pure beeswax from our bees here in West Oxfordshire, natural plant and seed oils and precious essential oils which make our products smell great!”

The lip balms are in slider tins and cost £4.50 (including postage from www.nevesbees.co.uk ) with flavours including the best-selling Sweet Grapefruit plus Honey Vanilla, Rosey, Chocolate Orange, Lemon & Lime, Buttermint and Original. Each flavour is made with natural ingredients including organic shea butter; organic jojoba oil, organic coconut oil and organic essential oil of vanilla. Each one, of course, includes 100% natural beeswax which helps to naturally seal moisture into the skin. All have a natural SPF of 15.

The hand salves cost £8.50 (including postage) and flavours include Grapefruit & Bergamot, Lemon & Lavender, May Chang, Ylang Ylang & Patchouli, Vanilla Musk and Rosey and are available in 30ml screw-top tins

Julie adds: “The oils we eventually selected for our hand salve are not only very effective skin moisturisers but they absorb quickly – this is why your skin feels nourished and soft but not greasy. Many beeswax hand salves contain mostly olive oil which, whilst a good moisturiser, stays greasy on your skin for a much longer time. We also use organic Jojoba oil, almost identical molecularly to skin’s natural sebum, and Natural Vitamin E, all of which combine to create a super soft, rich hand balm that absorbs quickly to leave your skin feeling supple and nourished but not greasy.”
Neve’s Bees beat more than 100 other local firms to be selected as the winner of Blenheim’s ‘dragons-den’ style competition and the process has proved to be the catalyst to make Neve’s Bees a favourite among consumers who really want something a bit different.

“We pride ourselves on being just a bit different to the norm – using cute (but not plastic!) packaging, bright cheerful designs and amazing natural fragrances,” continued Julie. “We’re now working on building relationships with more retailers to stock our skincare range.”

All products are made under EU licence and are available at a selection of shops across Oxfordshire as well as online at www.etsy.com and www.nevesbees.co.uk