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‘I want people to have hope’
Friday, 05 August 2011
By Lindsay burns
WHEN Barry Mizen’s teenage son was murdered, he made a vow that he would not be beaten by grief, anger and bitterness.
Instead, the shoe repairer from Lee has channelled his energy into campaigning against violent crime.
His journey has taken him to 10 Downing Street, schools, prisons and charities all over the country.
Mr Mizen, 59, has been nominated for a South London Press Our Heroes Award for his tireless community work.
The awards recognise the efforts people go to in helping others and improving their communities.
Mr Mizen, who has eight children and a grandson, said: “After Jimmy died, my thoughts were, ‘I’m not going to be beaten by this, I’m absolutely not’.
“I think the most important thing is to bring something positive out of what happened.
“When people see us and other people who have lost their child, it’s incredibly sad.
“But I don’t want people to feel sorry for us, I want them to see us and have some sense of hope that things can change.”
Jimmy, 16, was murdered in May 2008, at a Lee bakery, close to his family home, the day after his birthday.
Jake Fahri, 19, from Lee, was jailed for life for the fatal attack.
Barry and his wife Margaret set up the Jimmy Mizen Foundation as a charity in May 2009, to run their community work.
The couple and some of their sons opened the Cafe of Good Hope in Hither Green Lane, Hither Green, in November last year to help raise funds for the foundation.
Mr Mizen said: “We don’t want to concentrate on the bad news and hold marches and things like that.
“You can’t wait for the police and the Government to solve problems on their own.
“If we want to make South London a better place to live, it has to come from changes that each and every one of us make.
“We need to start to see ourselves and our families in the mixed communities of South London, rather than seeing everyone as unconnected strangers, then we can have peace and a more cohesive society.”
Since the foundation was set up the family has raised more than £120,000.
Some of the cash is spent on Jimmy Buses to be used as community transport.
Mr Mizen has also helped found the City Safe Haven scheme that gets businesses to agree to shelter young people who feel under threat of crime. He said: “Getting people to care about each other, get to know each other, work together and make things a bit better – that is the real aim behind the City Safe Haven scheme.”
His wife Margaret, who won the Our Heroes Star of South London award last year, said her husband never stops working for the good of young people.
She said: “We know Jimmy would be as proud of him as we are. He really is a hero to South London – and his family.”
Nominees’ stories will be given to a panel of judges in September so that winners can be chosen. The campaign ends with a gala ceremony at the South Bank headquarters of sponsors Shell on November 15.
Copyright Tindle Newspapers Ltd Friday, 24 May 2013
Other Our Heroes Awards 2011:
Sir Ray Tindle
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