Plumbers offering free services are quite unheard of, especially since they do a great deal of hard work in our homes. But not this plumber from Lancashire, England.
James Anderson, 53, has provided free plumbing services to the disabled and elderly since 2017 when he launched his non-profit community interest company Depher. For more than three years, this kind-hearted man has been working 70 hours a week without taking a day off. So far, he and his team have helped over 10,000 families!
The non-profit relies solely on donations and crowdfunding to keep its operations afloat. As much as he can, James offers his services for free. But when the funding is low, he’s forced to charge a very minimal fee.
“As long as I have enough money to fill up the tank in my car, I will be there to try and help the people who need it,” he said.
The inspiration for starting Depher (Disabled and Elderly Plumbing and Heating Emergency Response) came after James was called to a home for a second opinion. He found that a heating company was charging the elderly and disabled man £5,500 ($7,478) for a new boiler when a simple part replacement was really all that was required.
Since then, the Good Samaritan has promised to help the vulnerable members of his community “whatever the cost.”
But since the pandemic, he has branched out into helping others outside this demographic by giving out food parcels, donating PPE to care homes, nursing homes, and ambulance service members, and even paying the bills of families in need.
“We started off just doing plumbing and heating, but we saw so many people struggling it felt like it was wrong to stop there,” he said. “Anything we can do, we will try to do.”
The dad of six said he has spent £57,000 ($77,505) during this pandemic alone. Although the initiative has cost him a lot, he says it was “worth every penny,” knowing that it has kept people alive.
“If you’ve got disabilities, issues, sometimes these things can become too difficult to overcome and we want to make sure they’re taken care of,” James said. “We’ve all got a social responsibility to each other – we need to be there for each other.”
More than 17,000 people died in the UK last year due to cold homes and fuel poverty. James has made it his mission to reduce this number down to zero. He recently launched a fundraiser to help thousands of households through the frigid winter months, when people will surely need heating.
James’ act of kindness first attracted media attention when a photo of a £0 bill he left for a 91-year-old woman with leukemia went viral.
The receipt for the boiler repair, shared by the woman’s daughter, came with this message:
“No charge for this lady under any circumstances. We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible.”
Today, James works with plumbers from Lancashire, Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham, and parts of Scotland. He hopes to cover the entire UK soon.
“It’s been a lot of sweat and pain,” James said of his work, “but we’re carrying on until the good man upstairs tells me I’m done.”
“Doing all of this has made me realize the reality of our communities, the amount of people who are struggling. And you can’t just sit by and do nothing,” he added.
Unfortunately, this good man has contracted COVID-19. He “struggles to breathe or do normal things, he has anxiety attacks and sleep issues,” according to an update in his GoFundMe.
However, the good thing is that he is now healing. His family is optimistic that he will make a full recovery as soon as possible.
We’re all rooting for your recovery, James! If you’d like to contribute to James’ mission of helping the vulnerable and elderly, you may donate to his GoFundMe.