Plumber who offers free work to elderly and disabled customers hopes to help 1,000 families this winter

'A lot of them are in a situation where they end up paying what they haven't got to get these repairs done.' plumber James Anderson says

Sabrina Barr
Thursday 05 December 2019 12:09 GMT

A plumber who offers to work for free for the elderly and disabled people has said he aims to help 1,000 families throughout winter.

James Anderson, a plumber from Burnley, Lancashire, runs a not-for-profit company called Depher, which works with a network of plumbers and heating engineers to provide assistance for people who may be unable to afford the cost of their service.

Earlier this year, Mr Anderson received widespread praise when a photograph of an invoice he had given a 91-year-old woman with leukaemia for £0 went viral online.

The publicity he received resulted in members of the public donating tens of thousands of pounds to help him with his work, in addition to an increase in requests for services from Depher.

Mr Anderson has now said he is trying to raise enough funds to help 1,000 households over the course of the winter months.

“A lot of them haven’t got a lot of income, a lot of them haven’t got a lot of family they can turn to, and most of the time the family they’ve got can’t afford to help them,” the plumber said of the people who Depher assists.

“A lot of them are in a situation where they end up paying what they haven’t got to get these repairs done.”

Mr Anderson explained that the attention his £0 invoice received on social media has resulted in the organisation receiving an increased number of calls amid the arrival of the cold weather.

Plumber James Anderson, from Burnley, runs not-for-profit company Depher (James Anderson/PA Wire)

“A hell of a lot more people have been ringing in for private work and Depher work, a lot of people have now noticed what we do, and a lot of people are ringing up on behalf of family members who need help,” the plumber said.

Mr Anderson, who currently receives around 15 calls a day, is asking for members of the public to help him raise another £30,000 via GoFundMe to enable Depher to continue helping households in need throughout the winter.

“Three days ago I got an email off a lady, there was a woman in Essex who has an oil boiler and she’d got no heating or hot water. The carer that looks after her contacted me because of it,” he said.

“A company wanted £3,000 upfront payment before they’d even go out and look at the boiler. This woman’s 74, walking around the house in a hat, gloves, scarf – she’s on a pension, she hasn’t got that kind of money. The majority of people in this country haven’t.”

Mr Anderson currently works with plumbers based in Lancashire, Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham and parts of Scotland, with hopes to eventually cover the whole of the UK.

Plumbers and heating engineers who work with Depher are required to provide their services for free.

However, Depher pays for parts and offers £30 to cover the expenses for each job.

“The more people that come on board, the better it’s going to be for us as a trade because we need to get rid of this stigma that a lot of people think that plumbers and heating engineers charge too much and they only do this so they can get the money,” said Mr Anderson.

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