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Primary school teacher Ed Finch sent a copy of When I Coloured in the World to Home Secretary along with letter

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Ed Finch’s letter to the Home Secretary, accompanied by When I Coloured in The World

Over the last week, we have received a lot of support for illustrator Ehsan Abdollahi’s cause: for the second year in a row, he has faced difficulties in obtaining a visa so that he can attend Edinburgh International Book Festival as planned, despite being the named illustrator in residence this summer. Many people tweeted the Home Secretary and Home Office, trying to bring attention to the issues being faced, and hoping that neither Ehsan nor our other illustrator Marjan Vafaeian would have their applications denied as they had done in the past. Ehsan’s visa has now been granted, and he is just waiting to receive it. One primary school teacher, Ed Finch, took an even more direct approach than most. Once Ehsan’s visa issue was resolved, he wrote a letter to the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, alongside a copy of a book that Ehsan has illustrated: When I Coloured in The World. We would like to say a big thank you to Ed Finch for his support through the campaign, and for getting in touch with the Home Office directly in this way! Read what the letter said below:


Dear Home Secretary,

I am writing to you, and enclosing this copy of  When I Coloured in The World  to mark my gratitude for the resolution of the visa issues that the illustrator, Ehsan Abdollahi, was having regarding his invitation to be Illustrator in Residence at Edinburgh Book Festival.

When I Coloured in The World was first published in Persian, but it embodies very British values of tolerance, peace, respect and celebration of diversity. It is just great that, after a lot of unnecessary stress and bother, Abdollahi is able to come to the UK and share his unique art and vision with us. If you played a part in that, I would like to thank you personally.

The difficulty that other artists and performers have had in acquiring visas to enter the UK – such that some have found the process humiliating and will no longer try- is both saddening and worrying. It is also deeply detrimental to the global standing of our lucrative creative industries. I would like to believe that you could ‘use your crayons’ as Home Secretary to paint a better, fairer world. Dealing with this issue of visas for artists would make an excellent first step,


Ed Finch, Primary School Teacher

Ed Finch

*Ed Finch is a primary school teacher in Oxford with a passion for books and storytelling. He has one very clever son, Douglas, who is eleven years old and going to boss the world of game development when he finishes school. Ed has taught in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Poland and the UK and believes that nothing connects people quicker or better than a good story shared.

  • Visa issues resolved for Ehsan Abdollahi and Marjan Vafaeian
  • Overwhelming public support for Ehsan Abdollahi
  • Gift your love to my hands -Ehsan’s poem and illustrations inspired by Freedom
  • Channel 4 coverage of Ehsan’s visa struggle

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