Burnley plumber pledges £5,000 to Pastor Mick Fleming's 'life or death' night shelter appeal
A kind-hearted plumber has pledged £5,000 towards a night shelter for the homeless after pastor Mick Fleming warned people were now dying on the streets of Burnley.
James Anderson, who hit the headlines last year when he fixed the boiler of a 91-year-old woman with leukaemia free of charge, also offered to cover the shelter's plumbing and heating maintenance.
The selfless gesture comes as Pastor Fleming, who through Church on the Street has been the spearheading the campaign for a night shelter since early last year, said the situation had now gone way beyond crisis point.
"I know people who have died on the streets of Burnley," he said. "And I know that if we had had this night shelter, these people would not have died. I have picked people up of the streets; vulnerable people with serious health conditions. I have taken them to places for help but the waiting list is so long they have had to go back on the streets.
"The people have spoken. The people are sick of it. Business have been getting in touch with me, charities have been getting touch with me. The homeless situation is getting worse, but the support is growing. The night shelter would help bring everything we're doing together.
"It's a massive gesture from James. I've got a building in mind for the shelter and donations like this help greatly. We need money for rent but also to ensure the premises are fit for purpose. Showers needs fitting, and a kitchen, and that's why James' offer to cover the maintenance is also incredible. We can't thank him enough."
The night shelter would offer rough sleepers an unconditional room for the night. They would be given a shower, a brew and a bed, before being sent on their way in the morning following breakfast.
James said the shelter was a fantastic idea and was full of praise for the work Pastor Fleming and his team was doing.
"I've always followed Mick on Facebook; it's incredible what he's doing," he said. "When I was 18 years old I was homeless in London and Bristol, and so I know what it feels like to be isolated from society. Once people find themselves in that situation, whether it be through choice or no fault of their own, it is extremely difficult to reintegrate back into society. There's always this stigma attached to homeless people - they drink, they do drugs - and that's not always the case
"The night shelter is such a good idea. It gets them off the street and away from danger, but it's also a stepping stone for them. It shows them that people do care, and are willing to give them a hand up.
"When you're homeless you do feel alone, you do feel as if nobody cares. My big problem when I was homeless was that I stunk, I was dirty, the clothes I was wearing looked like they had come from the 1920s. When people see that, they just see you as a certain type of person."
James, who runs Depher CIC, has set up a JustGiving page, which can be found here, to help raise further funds for the night shelter and urged the people of Burnley to help out any way they can.
"It hits hard, especially at this time of year when the weather is so bad," added James. "I'm going to be contacting every business in Burnley and asking them to make a donation. Those who can should always give a little back. The homeless need our help."