The actor's cousin has Down's Syndrome and autism, and requires "24/7 care"
Game Of Thrones star Kit Harington is backing a campaign asking the government to cover years worth of back-pay for overnight workers who care for the disabled.
UNISON, the union for public service workers, successfully campaigned for charity Mencap to pay carers providing all-night care to be paid the national minimum wage. Previously, carers would be paid a flat rate of between £20 and £30 a night.
However, the charity have appealed an employment tribunal from the union relating to back-pay for staff working sleep-in shifts. Mencap chief executive Jan Tregelles told Channel 4 paying six years worth of back-pay would leave “utter devastation” for those needing care, families and “the entire sector”.
Speaking to the BBC, Harington used his cousin Laurent’s experience to highlight why it is integral care for those who need it isn’t jeopardised. Laurent has Down’s syndrome and autism, and requires around the clock care.
“If this legislation goes ahead and the back pay bill lands squarely at the charities’ and providers’ feet and they have to pay it, many people like Laurent are not going to have that 24-7 care,” Harington said.
“This bill cannot be paid by the charities. For me, it’s as simple as this can’t be allowed to stand. Laurent loves swimming, he loves Zumba, he loves dancing, and he loves going to the disco. He needs to live the life he loves living.”
He continued: “When my aunt can’t care for him the way she has, we will need to find that for him, and my worry is that the way things are going, it’s going to be harder and harder for Laurent to find what he needs.
“Basically, I think the government needs to pay it. The bill needs to be footed, and it needs to be footed by the government.”
The actor added that he believes the issue is of “great importance”, not just for his cousin and his family, but for the whole of society. “Our duty for society is to care for the most vulnerable in our society,” he said. “If this bill is having to be paid by the charities that cannot pay it, the most vulnerable in our society are going to be left without care.
“That’s not a society I believe in or want to live in, so it’s of the greatest importance, and it’s urgent.”