‘Morning Len,’ says Ruth’s text this Saturday morning. ‘Just letting you know I am outside Frances’ flat as her and Mia are starring in the Reclaim film this morning…’
Ruth heads the ‘mentoring-and-much-more’ youth project that Frances attended when she was just 12. Reclaim is how I got to know Frances and, although she hasn’t been officially involved for five years, she still gets active support from the team. Today she is one of four or five ‘case studies’ who will promote the project’s work.
One of this morning’s locations is close by, at Monika’s house but I have missed most of the action by the time I get there. “Come through the back door,” Monika shouts as I walk up the front path, “there’s too much kit in the way here.”
Any house with small children is already full, so the addition of a four-person crew, all their equipment, Ruth, Frances, Mia (she doesn’t add too much) and now me, pushes the limits.
Monika is a board member on Reclaim, mum to two-year-old Isabelle, pregnant with her second, and counsellor to Frances when she was expecting Mia.
As I arrive, Monika is helping Frances administer Calpol to poorly-looking Mia. “What’s wrong,” I ask.
“She’s got the flu,” says Frances. “I’ve had it all week, too. Haven’t been able to go to college.”
There’s just one more shot to do. Frances and Monika ‘chatting’ across the kitchen table. Ruth is left in charge of Mia and Isabelle. I crouch out of shot on the kitchen floor as the camera operator shoots from the back garden.
As the film crew pack, Frances tells us she is going to take lifeguard training. Lifeguard training! Why not? “I’ve always loved swimming,” she says, “used to swim in the sea for miles.”
I offer to take Frances back to Wythenshawe. It’s not far. She tells me next week Hassan is doing a four-day security guard training course. It’ll be on Frances’ college days. “So what will you do with Mia?” I ask.
“On Monday, my sister will look after her. On Tuesday Reclaim say they will help. Not sure about Wednesday yet.” It’s complicated.