Bereaved mothers: L-R Grace Idowu & Margaret Mizen
29 October 2012
The mother of a teenager who lost his life to violent crime has thanked young Londoners who took part in a 100-day truce.
Margaret Mizen’s son Jimmy, 16, died after his killer hurled a glass dish at him during an attack in Lee, south-east London, in 2008.
Last night, she was joined by Grace Idowu, whose son David, 14, was fatally stabbed in Southwark the same year, and 1,000 young people at a Jimmy Mizen Foundation concert at the Indig02.
Attended by Mayor Boris Johnson and X Factor winner Shayne Ward, the concert marked the end of their “100 days of peace” campaign, inspired by a tradition in ancient Greece where hostilities ceased during the Olympics.
Mrs Mizen and Mrs Idowu have now launched a new campaign, Release the Peace, which aims to curb gangs by helping youngsters unleash their creativity. Mrs Mizen, 60, said teenagers at risk of joining gangs needed to be “nurtured and given the love and care they need”. She said: “Some of them will make great leaders if we can coerce them into the right path.”
She regularly visits pupil referral units and talks to children aged nine and 10 about her son’s case.
Mrs Mizen said: “We talk about actions and consequences because a lot of these young people who carry knives don’t think of the consequences. They don’t think that if they take out a knife they could be going to prison for 25 years. That’s 25 years of not being able to see their friends and having to go to bed when they are told.
“Jimmy died because of three minutes of anger. If I was to be angry at the boy who killed him I’d be no better than him. I’ve got nothing else to lose. I’ve lost my son. I can feel really angry, or I can do something positive.”
Mrs Mizen also called on David Cameron to do more to steer vulnerable youngsters away from gangs. “If you reach these children while they are still in primary school you can prevent them from doing bad things,” she said.
Her comments came as a think tank report said the Prime Minister’s “war on gangs” had failed.
The Centre for Social Justice’s report warned that the removal from the streets of “elders” after last year’s riots had created a power vacuum filled by younger gang members.