The APPG on Disability and the APPG on Health, both chaired by Dr Lisa Cameron (SNP), will be the second and third groups to invite Chris Jeffery to talk about his campaign. He addressed the APPG on Carers nine years ago.
Mr Jeffrey, who used to run the Shop Mobility centre in Royal Victoria Place before it was forced to close due to a lack of funds, has been fighting to get paid leave for people who work and look after disabled family members.
Chris’ organisation, Mending The Gap, is campaigning for working carers to be allowed five days’ paid leave to help in cases of emergency, so they do not have to take unpaid leave or use up holiday entitlement.
This would allow them to take the person they care for to appointments, or to be with them in hospital. Otherwise, he said, ‘when your carer is under pressure, you feel like a burden yourself.’
He continued: “And people can’t afford unpaid leave.
“The Government’s current Employment Bill only allows five days’ unpaid leave, but there are 9.5million people in the private sector juggling work with caring for someone. The NHS allows it. Local authorities allow it.
“More and more companies are slowly gaining the initiative. And when they do, carers feel that they are being ‘thought about’, and will go the extra mile.
“But retail is the worst at the moment.”
Chris was diagnosed with major kidney and bladder disorder 37 years ago, but reached a turning point 13 years ago, driven by the pressure on his wife Jenny, who is his carer, although she also suffers from diabetes and arthritis.
At that time, in his own workplace, Chris witnessed the plight of a disabled colleague whose wife was also wheelchair-bound, while the management response had been: “‘Work your hours. Take unpaid leave.’
“Something has got to change,” said Chris. “Carers save the economy millions.
“I’ve been campaigning for this for 13 years, and nine years with Mending the Gap. I reach right across the country, and am in touch with organisations around the country, too.
Chris has not yet got a date for his APPG appearances, but confirmed: “It will be after Easter.
“I’m not giving up,” he told the Times. “I’m a fighter.”
Chris’s campaign aims and news can be found at mendingthegap.co.uk