For Jimmy: From Death To Life
After her son Jimmy’s brutal murder in 2008, it seemed like the end for Margaret Mizen. Nine years on, Margaret shares how the For Jimmy charity was born in Jimmy’s memory -and how she and countless young people have found hope and new life as a result.
Hope is a word we need to hear more and more. We live in troubled times and people seem full of anger and hatred.
Our charity For Jimmy stems from his murder in 2008. On the night Jimmy died, my husband Barry and I made him two promises: firstly, we would do everything to keep his name alive. Secondly, as a family, we would dedicate our lives to working for peace.
The goal of For Jimmy is to share Jimmy’s story to help young people fulfil their potential and build the types of communities we want to live in.
Soon after Jimmy died, Barry and I were invited into a school to share Jimmy’s story. We were incredibly nervous, but when we did it, it felt right. This marked the start of our schools work.
We were also invited into a prison by the chaplain and thought “we can’t do that”. However, we met young men in prison who, under different circumstances, could have been any one of our seven sons. Again, it felt just right.
Our charity has grown. We run three Good Hope cafes, in Ladywell, Hither Green and in a Chelmsford school. We employ young people, and give opportunities to young people with autism.
Boris Johnson became Mayor of London the same week Jimmy was killed and has consistently supported us.
In schools, Barry and I share Jimmy’s story. We talk about actions and consequences, how our faith helped us cope and encourage young people to hold on to faith. Above all, we tell them they are valued and loved.
Young people respond positively. We encourage them to be a positive force in our communities, as they are the change makers!
In London, it is slightly different. We are focusing in Lewisham. If we can get our Safe Havens right, we can take it elsewhere.
Safe Havens are shops and businesses that children can turn to in times of need. If a child feels threatened or in danger, they can enter a Safe Haven and the shopkeeper will agree to lock the door and call a parent, guardian or the police.
Grinling Gibbons Primary School and Blackrock Investment Management Company teamed up to build Safe Havens on Deptford High Street, prompting Blackrock’s Ify Ezike to hail the Safe Haven programme as “a great example of how to turn a painful experience into good.”
When a student recently asked: “Are you going to take this to other countries?”, we replied: “Absolutely!” There is so much anger and hatred in the world; we have to do everything to make it better. I recently went to Africa with CAFOD to explore peace initiatives.
I think Jimmy would be incredibly proud. Young people need to know they are loved. Jimmy knew he was loved. The night before he died, we held him tight and told him how much we loved him.
Our faith sustains us. When the going gets tough, hold on to God tighter, as He never lets go. He is a wonderful, loving Father. Hold on to God in life’s difficulties.
It is all about hope and change. Every time something wonderful happens for the charity, I become aware of the good things that come from Jimmy’s death. I think of Our Lady. Although she saw Jesus killed, she also experienced his glorious resurrection. "Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the Father's glory, so too we may live a new life." (Romans 6:4)
Jimmy was a very special boy, and all our young people are special. We have to do all we can to make this a more peaceful world for each one of them.
I believe, with all my heart, we can do it.
- You can find more information about how to get involved at the For Jimmy website: www.forjimmy.org