A plumber in England is being hailed as a modern day hero after he founded a social enterprise which has helped thousands of the UK’s most vulnerable people.
James Anderson, 54, runs DEPHER, the community interest company which provides heavily subsidized services for the those who are struggling. DEPHER stands for Disabled & Elderly Plumbing and Heating Emergency Repairs, and from paying people’s bills they can’t afford, to offering emergency plumbing and heating services, delivering food parcels and covering funeral payments, there is not a lot DEPHER, much like plumbers for that matter, can’t do.
Over the last six years Anderson and his team based in Burnley have helped more than 52,000 families - around two million people across the country.
“What we try to do is help people realize there is somebody out there who will help them,” said Anderson.
Anderson got the idea to launch his catch all social enterprise when he went on a job one day to a gentleman’s house in his hometown of Burnley, in Lancashire. The man had asked James to take a look at his boiler after receiving a £5,500 quote from another company.
“This company had tried to scam this guy for thousands of pounds he didn’t have, for work that he certainly did not need,” Anderson recounts. “This guy was elderly and bed-bound - he was in an extremely vulnerable position. We stepped in and dealt with the company and gave the guy a £1,000 free boiler.”
“I just remember thinking something needs to be done about this,” admitted James. “This happens to so many people, and I thought if I could help just one at a time, I would be doing some good.”
Since then, DEPHER has grown to 13 employees who work all over the country.
A GoFundMe set up to prepare for winter has now received two thirds of their £100,000 goal.
“The more money we get, the more money people have for their bills and to pay for food,” said Anderson.