A plumber from Lancashire has launched a GoFundMe campaign to provide plumbing free services to the elderly to help them keep warm this winter.
Plumber James Anderson has previously raised over £80,000 through crowdfunding after a tweet showing an invoice for £0 he sent to a 91-year-old woman went viral. Now, with the UK facing its coldest winter in a decade, he wants to expand the scheme even wider to help elderly and vulnerable people across the country.
The GoFundMe page aims to raise £30,000, enough to help an additional 1,000 households.
According to the Office of National Statistics, last year there were an estimated 50,100 excess deaths during the winter, 92% of which were among people aged 65 or over. Earlier this year, scientists from University College London predicted that the average temperature this winter will be 3.9°C, the coldest since 2010, meaning the elderly are at even more risk.
James Anderson launched Depher, a community initiative to provide free plumbing to elderly and vulnerable people, in 2017 and since then has helped over two thousand families. The network currently offers the service to people in Lancashire, Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham and Scotland and are keen to recruit more plumbers throughout the UK.
James Anderson, founder of Depher, said: “Last winter over fifty thousand people died because of the cold weather and this year is set to be even harsher. Many elderly people struggle to pay their heating bills, and if their boiler goes, they might not be able to afford to get it fixed, meaning they are left freezing. I urge people to donate to our campaign so we can help as many vulnerable people as possible. We would also love to hear from any plumbers up and down the country who would like to join our scheme and volunteer their time. Please do get in touch if you want to get involved.”
Depher’s plumbers give their labour for free and receive £30 through the scheme to cover their expenses. If any additional paid work comes about as a result, 2% of the fee goes to Depher and is reinvested in the business.
People who have been helped by James Anderson have written letters of thanks to him and left comments on the Depher Facebook page.
Rochelle Ireland from Falkirk wrote: “Hot water and heating weren’t working, and I was getting nowhere. My husband is disabled and I have a joint condition, as does our son. As soon as Depher heard our story, and the problems, they immediately agreed to help, even though we live in Falkirk, Central Scotland. Dread to think how long it would have taken us to get this sorted. Thank you doesn’t cover it - you have taken a huge weight off at a very difficult time!”
Those interested in donating to the GoFundMe campaign can do so by visiting www.gofundme.com/depher.
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