Speaking for Ourselves

'I am a gift to Birmingham, a hardworking single mother'

'I am a gift to Birmingham, a hardworking single mother'

Collette Anthonette Francis

 Migrant Voice - 'I am a gift to Birmingham, a hardworking single mother'


Migrant Voice member Collette Anthonette Francis recently opened "A Gift to Birmingham" at Ikon Gallery in collaboration with Migrant Voice and the University of Birmingham. The exhibition includes seventeen portraits of Migrant Voice members, as captured by renowned photographer Vanley Burke. Here, we publish Collette's opening speech. 


My name is Collette.

I am a gift.

Isn’t it rude to reject, ignore or belittle a gift?

Behind my smile, there is pain.

I don’t feel I exist right now because I am still waiting for a decision on my extension visa after being here in the UK for 23 years and have two British children, not knowing for sure if my visa will be granted.

It more than likely will, but people don’t seem to understand the fear, the worrying, sleepless nights and the hurt of not knowing for sure what the outcome will be.

I am a Commonwealth citizen but at the same time I don’t feel as if I am treated as such.

I find the experience of being visible stressful because I feel as though I don’t belong here. It’s been a bittersweet experience for me.

I feel like this project has given me the opportunity to tell my side of my story because migrants are often talked about but are expected to just remain silent and get on with life with little or no support.

I am a gift to Birmingham, a hardworking single mother. A person of Birmingham who want to bring about changes for better in our society.

As I continue my fight, I have faith that I will in the end be a citizen of the UK.

You can watch BBC Midlands Today's coverage of the exhibition by clicking here

Read I Am Birmingham's coverage of the exhibition by clicking here


Get in touch

Migrant Voice
VAI, 200a Pentonville Road,
N1 9JP

Phone: +44 (0) 207 832 5824
Email: [email protected]

Registered Charity
Number: 1142963 (England and Wales); SC050970 (Scotland)

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