Monthly Archives: August 2012

Like a diamond in the sky


As if the mention of her name has woken her up, Mia starts crying from her cot.

“Hello princess,” sings Frances. “Hello princess.” I follow her into the bedroom.

“Let me put the light on,” I say, unable to take pictures in the dark room.

“It’s broken. The bulb doesn’t work.” I open one of the curtains instead.

“You have grown big, haven’t you?” Mia looks bleary-eyed at me. “You still tired?”

“Talk,” orders Frances. Mia immediately responds by making a sound. We both laugh. “I love it when I tell her to dance and then she’ll start dancing. Even if there’s no music on, she’ll start dancing.”

The insurance man has now left and the three of them start to get ready to go out. I am taking Frances and Mia into the Reclaim offices in town so she can design an invitation for the party. We’re dropping Hassan off at the job centre on the way.

“What’s happening about the housing?” I ask as she gets bottles ready. Frances is registered on a website where she ‘bids’ for social housing. There’s no money involved, the bid just tells the housing association of her interest.

“I’ve not told you yet, have I? My support worker told me that Mosscare [the housing association in Moss Side where she wants a house] have a policy of not offering anybody a house until they are 18. And I am in band five.”

“What’s band five?”

“It’s the most rubbish. Well, band six is the most rubbish. And if you’re in band one then you’ll get moved immediately. But as soon as I am 18 I’ll be put into band three and have a better chance of being moved.”

“So, you’ve been bidding all this time for no reason? And no one told you?” Frances doesn’t seem bothered. She’s more excited that she might make progress after her birthday in December.

The bath water is ready. “Mia, Mia… do you want to do splashing?”

Despite the odd jugful of water over her head Mia still manages to sing her version of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star while in the bath. “Are you singing to Mummy? Are you? Where’s the quack-quack duck?” After a verse or two Hassan comes in to take over so Frances can get herself ready. These two work well as a team.

It’s not too much longer before we are all traipsing down the white clinical corridor, Mia enjoying the expanse to show just how far she can walk.

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My comfort zone

We talk quietly in the kitchenette because today I’m not the only visitor. There is some insurance assessor here, sat on one of the sofas with a large laptop on his knee. He is taking statements about a car accident in which they both were slightly injured. Seems they were travelling back from his brother’s wedding ‘do’ and were hit by another car, which sped off.

It’s been over a month since I’ve seen Frances. I’m looking forward to catching up on her news and seeing how much Mia has grown these last few weeks.

“And can you describe the car that hit you?” the assessor says to Hassan as I ask Frances about her grandma who was critically ill.

“We all rushed to the hospital when they said she only had 12 hours but she pulled through. She’s still in, but she’s much better.”

“Is that your mum’s mum?”

“Yeah. And my mum has been out of hospital for a while now. She’s been doing okay.”

“Has she had her prosthetic leg fitted?”

“Not yet. I haven’t seen her for a week or so, I’m going over later.”

For weeks Frances has been planning Mia’s first birthday party. It’s now less than a month away and I assume preparations are well advanced.

“What are you going to get her for her birthday?”

“I’ve already bought her loads of things,” says Frances excitedly. “I’ve bought her a wicked little pair of trainers called Toms. They’re like pumps but they’re hard at the bottom – like proper shoes – so they’ll be good for walking. I was buzzing when I bought them. I never had anything like that. I had Reebok Classics from the charity shop.

“And I’ve bought her one of those plastic things with the different colours that you bang with a hammer. I’ve got her a blow-up Mini Mouse chair and a big keyboard thing, and what else?”

I follow Frances into their bedroom where she shows me the presents, all wrapped up in pink paper. She tips out plastic bags full of party poppers, decorations, prizes for games.

“I need to get a piñata,” she says. “They’re £5 at Asda.”

The assessor is still questioning Hassan – “And what is the name of your GP?” – and so we continue our catch-up in the kitchenette where Frances describes how she has transferred to a closer campus of the same college, to continue her course.

“I’ve opened up my comfort zone, stepped out and now I’ve made it bigger.”

I must have pulled a puzzled face.

“I just walked in on my own and said I’d come to enroll. I was chatting to everyone. I wasn’t even bothered. I was like, ‘You don’t know me. So how can you judge me if you don’t know me?’”

“Why do you think they would judge you?”

“Because that’s what I always think when I go into somewhere new. I think they are staring at me and thinking I’m a bad person. But this time I wasn’t even bothered. And I even walked it back. I was feeling well confident.”

The Wythenshawe campus is just up the road from Dunbar Street. It’s only been opened a couple of years but I can’t understand why she was not referred there when she enrolled last year at the campus across town. Maybe at that time they didn’t offer the course.

She’ll do six weeks here and then, if she progresses well, she’ll start Level 2 at the Northenden which is a little further away but still on this side of town.

“But you passed Level 1, didn’t you? Why can’t you go straight to Level 2?”

“One of my tutors marked me down on her reference because of poor punctuality.”

“Did she not realise you have a baby, had to get up at six and had a series of bus journeys that took nearly two hours!”

“And what about Mia?”

“She’s going to nursery!” Frances exclaims, clapping her hands together. “I’m going to send her to the Forum Nursery. But I need to get the forms first so she can get funding. She can be there from 8 o’clock in the morning all the way until 6 o’clock in the evening while I’m at college.

“It’ll be good because she’ll be playing with other kids and she’ll start making me pictures. I can’t wait! I’ll just put them all over the walls. Everywhere.”

Continued in ‘Like a diamond in the sky’…

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Not up to much

Frances writes:

not relly been up to much since the last post mia is good she has 4 teeth now she is such a big girl she is always out playing with her friends. Its her 1st birthday in less then a monthcant wait not really had much contact with mellisa [from Reclaim] but im, going to get in contact with her im hopeing we can find a place to hire for it if not it will be in the big communal area at mine. Ive been buying bits and bobs and a few presents. ive been got to had some good days and bad days i have to go and enrol at college again this week but i want to transfer campuses to the 1 near me so its easier and i wont have to wake up so early and will get home in less then half an hour instead of an hour and a half. Ive benn to see my mum quiet a bit to help her out and taking her to appointments she is doing very well, unfortunatly my nana has been in hospital seriously ill i had a phone call a couple of weeks ago to go to the hospital because she didnt have much time left. the drs give her 12 hours that day but since then she has managed to get better and she is recovering but she is still in hospital. me and hassan have been spending lots of time together at home he is good nothing has really changed in his situation. had some bad things happen like no change in my housing im still bidding i found a 2 bedroom house on the next street to my mums i bid for it and i wanted to send a letter but everytime i asked the staff to help me they were toobusy and tell me to come back and that would take to long they should have helped me thats what they are here for so they are starting to dissapoint there. But i ended up sending an email to homefinder to try to get a better chanceof getting it but i havent heard anything back. i have also sent an email of complaint to the head office telling them that i am very angry that they havent changed my carpet and i have had enough with it and if they dont i will be forced to go to a solicitor. do you think thats a bit harsh? i dont the carpets are discracefull also said how much they have let me down helping me recover mia ‘s stolen birthday money the police have denyed me chance to find out who took it to they have told me that they are to busy to look at the camera now so thay are closing the case there just as bad they are suposed to be FIGHTING CRIME, PROTECTING PEOPLE. but there not no wonder y people take the law in to there own hands bloody ridiculous it unsecure here and they dont actually help u since i have lived her my mental helf has gotten worse but im staying stonge and waiting for my time im just trying to do everything that needs doing in order to get me moved on pritty hard with no help but im getting there

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