This week we’d like to highlight an extraordinary organisation doing important work in the community. You may have seen Depher CIC in the news recently – they’re a Community Interest Company based in Burnley, Lancashire providing free or heavily subsidised emergency heating and plumbing work to elderly, disabled and vulnerable members of the community who are unable to afford necessary, and sometimes lifesaving, repairs. Founded by plumber James Anderson in 2017, they have helped over 20 000 families since then and continue to do so. Their work was recently featured on On The Tools – see below:
Depher (Disabled & Elderly Plumbing & Heating Emergency Repairs) was started in March 2017 after James Anderson stopped a elderly gentleman being conned out of £5,500 by a rogue plumber. Shocked at vulnerable people being targeted by rogue traders, he rectified the issues and made sure the plumbing company came back to compensate the customer. Since then, his organisation has helped over 19,000 elderly and disabled people struggling with no heating or hot water, gas leaks, or water leaks, or at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Depher has also received over 20 awards from around the world including the Points of Light Award from the UK Government, showing what difference their work is making. Depher’s Twitter feed is also full of real-stories of the people they have helped so far, and we really recommend you check it out!
Depher rely funds from paid plumbing work, as well as donations, to continue their charitable work. For over 3 years, James has been working 70-hour weeks and also spent £57 000 over the pandemic to not only help vulnerable families with their plumbing and heating, but also providing emergency food parcels, PPE and help with bills. With winter on the way and many vulnerable people struggling to heat their homes or afford basic necessities, James’s work can sometimes be literally lifesaving – winter 2021/2022 could see 45 000 or more excess deaths due to fuel poverty, many of them elderly or disabled and unable or reluctant to ask for help due to concerns about being seen as a problem or burden.
Depher has attracted attention from national media and celebrities over the last year, with James interviewed on the BBC, and recently receiving a surprise donation of £10 000 from Hugh Grant – James said he was “shocked” to see the donation on his winter fundraiser GoFundMe page: “I didn’t believe it was him. It’s a shock but it’s wonderful,” he said. He has also received enquiries from people in Australia, Germany, France and Italy interested in starting their own community plumbing and heating organisations.
Although Depher has largely been helping people in the Lancashire area, James is setting his sights further: “I want Depher available in all cities and towns, communities and available for all elderly and disabled members of the community”, he states. To achieve this, Depher have launched a fundraising campaign to allow their vital services to be available across the UK, with the goal of having a plumber either employed by or volunteering for Depher based in every town and city in Britain!
They have also launched a Christmas appeal to provide vulnerable families with winter essentials as well as Christmas presents for children, with an Amazon wish list ready for anyone who wises to donate!
To support Depher and their amazing work and find out more, please:
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