Gwen Montgomery of Sorted by Gwen – A small business offering decluttering,
organisation and systems to individuals and small businesses.

Often, through the difficult times in life God brings out something new. That was the case for me, feeling very stressed in my employment over many months, then my dad becoming ill and dying, it felt hard to  now what I should do next. On my journey home from Dad’s funeral, God spoke to me and it became clear that it was time to strike out and become self-employed! With a large mortgage, this seemed very risky, so it had to be from God that I felt peace about going ahead with my small business. So, from April 2007, not knowing what exactly it would look like, I started Sorted by Gwen. My experience in administration, organising, book-keeping meant that I could offer these skills – and others – to small businesses and individuals.

A £1.50 advertisement in the local shop brought me my first client, after sorting out new systems, I did accounts, payroll and VAT returns for that company for 12 years! My former employer needed me back for a few months and it felt less stressful on my terms. That first client recommended me to the next, who recommended me to another. Physically sorting out offices and home offices and then moving to kitchens, garages, and wardrobes, I became Ireland’s first declutterer. By 2008 I was living in Wicklow and the recession hit hard but I got some great press coverage and radio interviews over the years. It was such an unusual occupation and people were interested and many were needing my services. If I had a pound for everyone who said ‘I need you!’ when they heard what it is that I do, I’d be retired with my feet up by now! But there are many barriers to calling in my kind of help.

I have always worked alone with my clients, I knew they needed to make the decisions themselves on what should be let go of and where the remaining things were to be stored. I would encourage and equip them as I go along. It was brilliant to leave a house after three hours or more and know someone had got into the way of asking ‘Why am I keeping this? Where should this live so I can find it? Do I need five of these?’ so that they could continue the task on their own, or look forward to my next visit when they got ‘stuck’. If they were happy with it, I always took the things away – to charity shops or recycling or to the  dump – so that nobody in the house could do a ‘rescue’ afterwards. Decisions had been made and off I went with the excess stuff! Trying to ‘save the planet’ is difficult when so much excess has already been

Clutter can cause a huge problem in relationships and to mental health. Some of the trickiest situations I have had to deal with is helping a client whose partner is a hoarder, or walking in to a house where there’s not even room to put my bag on the floor anywhere! But it is great to see the relief that people
feel as they start to deal with the clutter – there really is a sense of freedom and release!
Some years ago after applying my faith to my unusual work, I began speaking at ladies church groups – mainly but not exclusively – and helping to challenge our hoarding behaviour from a Christian perspective. The bible has plenty to say on the matter.

My hobbies include gardening, card-making, singing, travel, cycling and walking and trying to work out what my cat, Smokey is up to!

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