Depher, which stands for Disabled & Elderly Plumbing & Heating Emergency Repairs, was founded by James after a phone call changed his career and life forever.
James has been helping the most vulnerable for years, and is now considered a true community leader.
We caught up with James to find out more about this incredible project, and to discuss how working with Action Insurance Repair can help James on his mission to provide assistance to those who need it the most.
Tell us about Depher. How did it start, and how is it going?
It started in 2017, when an elderly person needed a second opinion on a quote for a new boiler. We realised that the plumber had manipulated the system to make it look like they needed a new boiler, and then quoted over £5000 to fix it. When I found out about this, I called them and threatened to go to the media with the story if they didn’t rectify the situation. The next day they sent another engineer, put in a new boiler, and gave the elderly man £1000 as compensation.
But this made me wonder, this is one of how many cases? So I decided to start a company to help people who can’t afford to pay for the services – disabled, elderly. This is how Depher was born.
The first two years were rough, and we barely had enough money to keep going. People pay us when and how much they can, but often they can’t afford basic services so we do the repairs for free. Luckily, in 2019 a post made by a family member of someone we helped went viral, and we had a very generous person pay all our debts. This gave us a clean slate, and the incentive we needed to carry on.
It’s been a long road, and one that nearly cost me my marriage, but now we have a lot of support from the community. In fact, just this morning Hugh Grant made another donation – I think it’s his second or third!
Community work is a big part of what you do – congratulations on your various awards – Points of Light, Local Hero – by the way. Do you partner with other local companies to help you reach more people?
We don’t partner per se with other companies, but we work with other building and trade companies closely. This means that if Depher isn’t nearby, we recommend them and they take on the work. Sometimes it’s pro bono, sometimes it’s paid work. We make sure we work with companies with a similar ethos to us, who understand the importance of giving back to the community.
But this doesn’t mean it’s always free work. The community knows how to give back, and when people know they can trust that building company they refer them, often times to paid jobs.
We are obviously big fans of your work, which is why we decided to work with you. How do you think we can help?
Disaster strikes everyone, and damage to houses can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, elderly people don’t usually know how to deal with insurance policies, and there are too many rogue builders out there waiting to take advantage of that. With Action Insurance Repair, people know they get quality repair work, at no cost to them. What’s more, they don’t need to deal with insurance companies or worry about getting the right tradespeople in to get the repairs they need. AIR offers them peace of mind, which they need (and really deserve).
What’s next for depher?
Right now, we are raising money to go national. We want to have an employee in each area in the UK, and open different branches with fundraising shops, to raise more funds to help more communities. We are currently building a directory of trusted traders, one where traders come onboard and prove that they are good. Rather than Depher getting a commission, we vet them, and make sure that anyone we recommend is trustworthy. This way we work with them, they accept free jobs when needed, and in return we refer them to paid jobs suitable to them.
As always, it was an absolute pleasure talking to James. As a community-centered company, we are incredibly proud to be able to support James and his team with their work. If you want to find out more, contact us today.