By Grahame Anderson

Wearside based Fletcher Locksmith & Safe Co found kindness was key when coming to the rescue of Sunderland Central Mosque.

With premises closed due to the coronavirus crisis, some access was still needed to help set up a regular broadcast from the mosque, so its congregation could worship in their own homes. Unfortunately, mosque officials suddenly found themselves shut out due to a troublesome lock.

There was only one thing to do for former Mosque Secretary Abdur Rouf. Aware of the high reputation of a family company in the city’s Fulwell area, he picked up the phone to ask for help. Paul Fletcher, who runs the business with his dad John Fletcher, 72 and son Layton, 20, takes up the story: “The people at the mosque rang us and said they were having trouble getting in and out of the building – then they couldn’t get in at all. It’s closed because of the coronavirus, but they still needed access, so I offered to help them out.”

Nothing unusual there you’d think until it becomes clear Paul, 44, was angered by tales of businesses profiteering from the lockdown. He was determined to show there are still good guys out there. He quickly cut new keys for the Mosque, offering his services free, even though the work involved at the Mosque itself would normally cost around £100.

Emergency locksmiths are also categorised as essential workers – but it does seem some have been asking hundreds of pounds for jobs worth much less.

Paul pictured above added: “I’d been reading about ‘rip-off locksmiths’ charging a fortune for little jobs. I don’t want it to be in people’s minds we’re all like that. So, I’m doing my bit.
“I’ve cut a few free keys for nurses as well. Hopefully I’ll get something back when things are back to normal.”

Paul’s good deed was certainly greatly appreciated by Abdur who said: “I’ve known Paul for a while. We had a problem with a lock at the mosque. He came out and didn’t take any money, because it’s a mosque and because it’s Ramadan. We are all very appreciative.”

Meanwhile the efforts of Paul and his little team are also making a difference in the community as he explained: “I can’t afford to do everything free. But I’m offering discounts to care homes too.”

The Fletcher’s kindness has brought lots of positive social media messages including one from a man in Birmingham who said: “Hello Paul, I read the story about you helping the mosque, NHS workers and a care home.

“I just want to say thank you very much. In these times it’s hard for everyone, but for you to carry out this work for free and help people out is great. If only there were more people like you.

“I know a lot of people who would be like – its a mosque, forget helping them. But you have showed me there’s still humanity out there. I just wanted to say thank you.”
Khanage Imran Khan.

As for Sunderland Central Mosque, they’ve told Paul blessings are certainly coming his way.