“Calling for peace — it’s not complicated or revolutionary”

Keith Everson is Chair of Trustees at The Jimmy Mizen Foundation

I’ve been involved in a lot of charitable work over the years, but it all took on a new meaning when I became the Chair of Trustees at The Jimmy Mizen Foundation.

Barry and Margaret Mizen (my cousin) lost their 16-year-old son, Jimmy, in 2008 when he was murdered by a 19-year-old in southeast London. It was a senseless and shocking crime, but Margaret and Barry’s quiet dignity, during and after the ordeal, moved the nation.

They spoke openly of their grief and empathy for the family of Jake Fahri, who was convicted of Jimmy’s murder. They called for peace, asking Britain to make society a safer place — and their courage at a time of such pain meant the horrific crime had a positive legacy.

What was incredible was that Barry and Margaret tried to understand Jake Fahri’s situation, and saw that his problems had built up ‘little by little’. With a unique view of the criminal justice system, the couple set out to change young lives and do everything they could to prevent such a thing from happening again.

‘A peaceful response will bring about change,’ Margaret said to me. And since Jimmy’s death, his parents have visited many hundreds of schools, speaking to thousands of children about violence and the consequences of crime. They also visit young offenders and prisons.

Endlessly reliving the horrific events of May 2008 hasn’t been easy for the Mizen family, but they are determined to create something good in Jimmy’s name. Barry and Margaret even made a pact not to cry in public because they ‘don’t want people’s pity’.

‘We can scream and shout but it won’t bring anybody back,’ says Margaret. So in their work, she and Barry have made a very real difference to those who are still alive.

I’m in awe of the Mizen family’s strength and what they have accomplished. I don’t know whether I could have responded in the same way if I had lost one of my children in such tragic circumstances. But at least as Chair of Trustees I have been able to help in some way.

The Jimmy Mizen Foundation’s campaign is not complicated. Nor is it revolutionary. They simply want children and teenagers to contribute to their community to make it a safer, better place. Will you help them?

You can hear Keith talk more about his role at The Jimmy Mizen Foundation here.

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