Following the murder of Jimmy Mizen in 2008, his family have dedicated their lives to working for peace in his memory.
The Mizens have since shared Jimmy’s story in schools, churches, prisons and workplaces; their message of forgiveness, peace and hope impacting the lives of countless people and inspiring many to build safer, more peaceful communities.
Barry and Margaret received a standing ovation after speaking to 80,000 people at Pope Benedict XVI’s Hyde Park Vigil in 2010 and were both appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours, for services to young people in London.
Following the murder of our son Jimmy in May 2008, we as a family have been determined that we will not be beaten by his death and that something good will come from it.
We believe that the issues of anger, confrontation and violence in our communities will not be altered by ever harsher punishment and retributive action. We cannot expect the government or the police service to bring change by itself. We will only achieve safer and more cohesive communities by working together and understanding the root causes of the issues we are seeking to rectify. This involves early intervention, education and engagement with young people and their communities.
The behaviour and actions of the communities that we live in are the direct responsibility of each one of us. If we want a more peaceful society it starts with the individual. Long term, deep-rooted change can only happen if the thinking is changed first and we develop a more positive narrative concerning our young people. We believe that young people respond best when they are part of any decisions affecting their lives.
We are witnessing the impact on the lives of young people who have been affirmed and encouraged to help change the communities they live in. Our young people are precious and many live in fear of confrontation and anger from the few who cause the problems. The role of leading change is infectious and is best led by young people themselves; alongside the support of all of us.
We need to look at what is happening when our young people are getting involved in violence. We need to understand them in order to find out why those who hurt others do what they do.
Barry Mizen MBE