Their own personal photographer

Frances has had visitors this week. The social worker came round and confirmed that Frances and Mia were ‘off the list’. She was, apparently, happy with the way things were going and didn’t think there was any need for continuing intervention. Frances is happy about this. It’s like a good report card, but better.

“Someone from the Prince’s Trust has been round and filled out a form with me about the college equipment I need,” she says. “I’ll get an answer by the middle of February but he said they are not giving much out these days…”

Jane from the Family Nurse Partnership has also been here but, this time, didn’t weigh Mia as she has since her birth. “Surely it’s not such a big deal now?” I say.

“No, but I like to know how much she’s put on.”

“What can she do now?” I ask, knowing that each month, each week, brings a small achievement for a new baby at this age.

“She can roll over,” says Frances, proudly. “Then she puts out her hands and sits up like this. She watches the TV on her belly. Don’t you? Don’t you?”

Frances has made me a mug of tea and asks what I have been up to this morning. I tell about the new commission from the electricity company, photographing a line of pylons going straight through a housing estate in Flixton. It’s being redirected underground and I am following the work. “That’s where my sister lives,” she says. “There’s a field at the back of the house with some horses and a pylon.”

“That’s where I’ve just been!” I show her a picture on the camera screen of the exact same horses in a field.

“That’s it!” Small world.

Mia is lying on a rug in the middle of the floor ignoring CBeebies, listening instead to our conversation and concentrating intently on my camera.

“How’s it going this week?” I ask as Frances investigates the bag of outgrown clothes and toys passed on by one of this blog’s readers. I know there have been complications over childcare. “Have you managed to get to college?”

Because Hassan was booked to do a four-day security training course Frances had organised alternative arrangements for Mia. She explains that events took an unexpected turn on Sunday and Monday, which meant that she missed college and Hassan missed his course. “I think we should leave out the details,” she says. “But I’m definitely going to college next week.”

“Have you got your squiggle pad?” asks the TV.

“So it’s not been a good week?”

“No. But, on the other hand, my mum’s home.” It’s been a few weeks now since her mum’s amputation. But she is now back in Moss Side in the family house she shares with one of her sons, and Frances is clearly very happy for her. “She’s coping well but can’t really get about even with a wheelchair. My brother has to get her a brew and something to eat before he goes to work and, if he forgets, she’ll be without anything until 6 o’clock in the evening.”

I know Frances would like to be around to look after her mum but it’s not easy living on the other side of the city, with a small child and too reliant on public transport.

“Isn’t there anyone else who could go in?”

“Only my sister, Jade. She lives at the back of Hassan’s flat. But no-one else.”

“It’s time to go now but come back to get squiggling soon!”

Before I arrived Frances had planned to get something to eat from one of the shops around the corner. I finish my tea and accompany the two of them to the cash machine and then the chippy. Their own personal photographer. “Everyone will think I’m famous or something,” says Frances.

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