Southend mother 'shocked' to lose job because she has to look after her daughter with leukaemia

  • Reporter Abigail Bracken has been to meet Skye's family

A mother from Southend whose daughter has leukaemia says she was shocked to lose her job of 19 years because she had to look after her sick child.

Christina Harris has become a full-time carer for her daughter Skye, who is 11, while she has undergoes years of cancer treatment.

Skye was diagnosed in 2021, turning her families' lives upside down.

Mother, Christina, said: "It was a complete shock.

"I had no idea she was seriously ill at all.

"My world just shattered. I had to get my head around starting to give her medicine, all day every day which was really overwhelming but you get the hang of it.

"Suddenly it changes your world completely and you just deal with it, you're just on pilot mode and you do anything you can to save your child's life.

"She's literally been a superstar, she's not complained once during this whole process."

Skye is currently being treated in Southend Hospital for an infection.

Constant hospital stays, the need to isolate, and medicines around the clock mean it’s impossible for her mother to work.

Christina's employer of 19 years kept her job open for one year, but no longer.

She says parents shouldn't risk losing their jobs while they are facing the possibility of losing their child.

She said: "I was quite angry and upset and I think after that once I'd processed it all I started to really worry about my families financial future as well which is just really stressful when you're in this awful situation."

She has since started a petition that has already reached more than 37,000 signatures asking for a law to make employers give special breaks for parents with a seriously ill child so they can return to their jobs afterwards.

11-year-old Skye has been undergoing treatment for leukaemia. Credit: ITV Meridian

Posting on the Parliament petition page, Christina said: "Parents shouldn’t face losing their jobs on top of dealing with the possibility of losing their child.

"I feel this is the responsibility of the Government to protect the parents of seriously ill children, with no choice other than to drop everything to care for their children.

"Please, this needs to be addressed immediately. I have spoken to so many parents with caring responsibilities that are struggling financially, which then becomes a huge emotional burden and all this could be avoided if there was something in place to help desperate parents.

"This is URGENT!"

The government says it understands the difficulties the parents of seriously ill children face but says it is not practical to provide a specific right to take time away from work to cover every challenging situation an employee may face.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...