Barry Mizen is an extraordinary man.
He has risen above the most lifechanging, sorrowful and nonsensical event that most parents, could imagine: the death of a child through an act of violence. He is unwavering in his attempt to turn the May 2008 murder of his son Jimmy into a force for good.
In case you have forgotten, Jimmy Mizen was with his brother Harry in a bakery near their south London home, the day after his 16th birthday. Jake Fahri, previously cautioned by police for harassing Harry, brushed past “gentle”Jimmy and they got into an altercation. Fahri then threw anything he could at Jimmy including a glass oven tray that severed his jugular vein. Jimmy died in his brother’s arms. If I cannot imagine the pain his family endured, I can scarcely comprehend their courage.
They set up the Jimmy Mizen Foundation to “promote the good in young people”and opened the Café of Good Hope next door. Yesterday, Barry was on the radio. He was promoting “ safe havens” for young people in places like shopping centres, where they can shelter if they feel threatened. Barry was adamant: that locking up knife carriers isn’t the answer, education is.
This was the day after news that, despite David Cameron’s election manifesto soundbite that he would lock up all knife carriers, it only happens in one in five cases. Cue outrage. But not from Barry and Margaret Mizen who tour Britain raising awareness of the consequences of knife crime.
Barry argues that when his son was born in 1992, the prison population was half what it was when he died. Locking up our disaffected young will never solve the problem. Instead the Mizens campaign, fund-raise and actually make a difference.
You will learn a lot more at jimmymizen.org than you ever will from an election pledge.