Plumber providing free service puts help on hold due to soaring demand in cost of living crisis

James Anderson founded Depher to help those who were vulnerable with their gas, electricity and food. Credit: ITV News

A plumber who carries out free work and provides food for vulnerable customers says he has had to postpone his help after running out of funds due to soaring demand.

James Anderson, who runs community interest company Depher, says a "massive increase in demand" has meant he is running out of money each week.

The charity, which provides food and wider support to those in need across Lancashire, is funded by donations from the public, with actor Hugh Grant also a regular donor.

But, as more people request help with food, gas and electricity, James says he is struggling to raise enough to meet the need.

James has vowed to work hard to reinstall the initiative as soon as he is able to find more support.

In a statement, he said: "DEPHER will unfortunately have to postpone all requests for help with food, gas, and electricity.

"Due to a massive increase in demand, we are running out of funds very quickly every week. We will restart the initiative as soon as we find more support.

"We need to balance the outgoings for people who need our plumbing, heating boilers, and funeral support.

"We cannot use everything on just food, gas, and electricity. We have a responsibility to a wide range of people around the UK. We will work hard to reinstall the initiative."

Depher helps people all over the country. Credit: ITV News

James founded Depher - Disabled and Elderly, Plumbing and Heating Emergency Response - in 2017 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 began with providing free plumbing and heating services to those in Burnley, but now James and the team help with almost anything.

In almost six years, it has helped more than half a million people across the country, and James and the team say they do not plan on stopping any time soon.

During the pandemic, Depher provided PPE to nursing homes and the NHS, setting up a food bank and organising surprise birthday parties for children whose parents had been furloughed or laid off.

Staff get around 400 emails every day from people asking for help.

To find out more about DEPHER's work or to donate, visit the website.