'I'm on the edge': The cost of living crisis in Burnley and plumber James Anderson helping for free

A normal working day for James Anderson doesn't exist.

The plumber, who lives in Burnley, set up Depher in 2017 to provide free plumbing and heating services for disabled and elderly people.

Nearly six years later, the community interest company has helped more than half a million people across the country, and James and the team don't plan on stopping any time soon.

We went out on the road with James, to see how Depher is responding to the cost of living crisis and how people in Burnley are struggling with their bills.

I met James in his office before heading out to the home of a woman, Jo, who had been without hot water and heating for eight weeks.

The office phone rings off the hook, and staff get around 400 emails every day from people asking for help with anything from plumbing problems, to pictures of empty fridges and gas metres.

James and the team get hundreds of emails and phone calls every day. Credit: ITV News

We headed out to Jo's house, just up the road from the Depher office and community hub in Burnley town centre.

Her boiler had been broken since before Christmas, and when we arrived she was boiling a pan of water on the stove to wash with.

James surprised her by telling her Depher would cover all the costs for a brand new boiler, including the fitting.

Jo has been without heating or hot water for eight weeks. Credit: ITV News

Jo said the past few months had been extremely difficult and her last electricity bill was nearly £400.

She said: "It's been really hard.

"I've got a little boy and a granddaughter who is severely blind, and it's just hard work keeping it warm.

"But I know that there are always people worse off than me."

When we left Jo's house, James told me that she was a "community angel", always helping to fundraise for others, especially at Christmas.

James said: "Jo always puts others before herself.

"She can't afford a new boiler, and she deserves it. So that's why Depher will install a new one for her."

James started Depher four years after his son William died, at just 16 weeks old. He said on that day, he made a promise to him he would "be a better man".

It all began with providing free plumbing and heating services, but now James and the team now help with almost anything.

Since 2017, Depher has helped more than half a million people all over the country, including those at The Hub in Padiham.

The Hub provides a safe space for people to come for a chat, get free educational courses, hot drinks, and most of all - company.

But it too has faced crippling utility bills, the most recent being more than £700.

But after coming out to fix The Hub's blocked toilet, James made a donation from Depher, which has covered the bills, allowing The Hub to stay open to provide its vital services.

Viven Storey who runs The Hub said: "I cried when he told me.

"It just means everything to us."

Back in Burnley, and James is called to another boiler issue.

Jamie and Tamara live in social housing and say their boiler has been broken for more than a year, but claim their landlord Calico wouldn't do anything about it.

The couple, who have two children, say the ongoing cost of living crisis is having an impact on their relationship and their mental health.

Last month's gas bill alone, they say, was £350.

James attends another boiler problem in a house in Burnley. Credit: ITV News

Jamie said: "I rang James this morning in bits.

"I'm on the edge and it's really scary.

"We've had to use food banks and a place called 'Church on the Street' where you can get free clothes... it shouldn't be like that."

In response to Jamie and Tamara's claims, in a statement housing association Calico told ITV News: "We thank James Anderson for bringing these issues to our attention and have attended this address within a day each time we have been contacted.

"Of course, we would have liked to resolve this problem sooner, but are pleased to say that a new boiler is being installed today."

At Depher's community hub in Burnley, I asked James how worried he is about vulnerable people and how they will cope with the rising cost of bills.

Donations from the public are crucial to keep Depher moving, and after spending time with James and the team, it's clear to see that the support is needed perhaps more than ever.

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