Thousands of elderly and disabled individuals in the UK have received emergency heating and plumbing repairs at no cost during the pandemic thanks to a kind-hearted plumber.
James Anderson, 53, of Burnley, a town in Lancashire, England, has provided over 2,000 free emergency repair services for the disabled and elderly community during the pandemic, he told CNN.
“From the beginning of 2020 and through the pandemic we have worked seven days a week to deliver what the people need,” Anderson wrote in a post to Facebook. “We have faced the fight with you and continue to do so until the end, we will never abandon you.”
Anderson, a plumber with over 21 years of experience, set out to protect and care for vulnerable individuals in need of emergency repairs, after he witnessed a disabled and elderly man get cheated out of 5,500 pounds for a repair job that he didn’t need, he told CNN.
In 2017, he founded the non-profit organization DEPHER (Disabled and Elderly Plumbing and Heating Emergency Response) to provide free emergency repair services to disabled and elderly people in the community. Since its inception, the company has helped more than 10,279 families throughout the UK, according to Anderson.
“We basically deliver a lifeline to anybody who is elderly disabled and vulnerable of any age,” said Anderson.
With the elderly population being one of the most vulnerable during the pandemic, DEPHER’s work has been especially important to the community, said Anderson. The company even expanded donations to include PPE, a food bank, and paying electric and gas bills for those who could no longer afford it.
“I can never thank you enough James,” wrote a customer in a post to social media. “You kept me out of [the] hospital and saved my life.”
A large portion of the company’s operations are funded through Go Fund Me donations from the community. Around 40% of the funding comes from donations and the other 60% is funded through private jobs, said Anderson.
“I do it because it makes me feel gooey inside,” said Anderson. “To help people to live a lot longer and help them not suffer.”
In the future, Anderson hopes to expand DEPHER to cities throughout the world so that all elderly and disabled individuals have access to free emergency repair services in their communities. But for now, he says there are three things we need to focus on during and after the pandemic.
“Community, family, and love. That’s what we need now, ” said Anderson. “We need them things now all over the world and people need to do it.”