Jimmy Mizen Foundation Opens Community Centre And Cafe

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 162 months ago

Last Updated 29 November 2010

Jimmy Mizen Foundation Opens Community Centre And Cafe

Residents of Hither Green are feeling rather spoiled. This bit of Lewisham, so long labelled 'up and coming', is now revelling in not one, but two lovely cafes - the Cooper Locke Gallery cafe with squishy chairs and cupcakes, and the Cafe of Good Hope further down Hither Green Lane. Except the Cafe of Good Hope is more than just a cafe, it's also the headquarters of the Jimmy Mizen Foundation.

Jimmy Mizen, you'll remember, is the 16 year old who bled to death after a glass tray severed an artery during an argument in a bakery in Lee. His family have set up a Foundation in his memory, with all profits from the cafe feeding back into its work.

The Mizens want to promote the good in young people. They've launched an apprenticeship scheme, acting as middlemen for local businesses and young people who may be more practical than academically minded. They have already raised enough money to provide three 'Jimmy buses' for local scout groups and the Lewisham community transport scheme, and are on the way to funding another for a local youth organisation.

Talking to Bobby Mizen, one of Jimmy's brothers, it's amazing how upbeat he is, and how determined to look for the positive. He says it comes from his parents, Barry and Margaret, who tour the country raising awareness of the consequences of violent crime in the desire to stop such things happening to other people. We're a little bit in awe of families who experience such an enormous tragedy and instead of crumpling, turn it into a force for good.

Tracey Ford's son, Andre Smartt-Ford, was shot dead at Streatham ice rink in 2007. She launched the JAGS Foundation last week. She told us that she and Andre's father, Trevor Smartt, set up L.O.S.T. (Losing Our Sons Tragically) because it was hard to find anyone who understood what was happening to the family. She is now often invited to share her experiences with the wider community.

The JAGS Foundation aims to raise £500,000 over three years to help educate young people in financial literacy and life skills. Tracey says that it's:

"a way of ensuring that young people are engaged in life skills which will empower them to look at the ways in which they too can become responsible individuals with dreams and aspirations that they can attain."

The Stephen Lawrence Centre in Deptford is a creative learning hub, aiming to inspire hard-to-reach groups to take a meaningful stake in society through education and routes to employment. None of these institutions would exist if it weren't for the loss of a child - it could be argued that they might not be necessary if street violence and disenfranchisement didn't lead to such horrible consequences - and the good work they do says something wonderful about the human spirit.

Back in Hither Green, the Cafe of Good Hope had its grand opening yesterday. For a shop that used to sell spare car parts it looks incredible, with exposed brick walls, chandeliers, and chunky wooden tables and chairs to eat lunch on, or just sit around with a croissant using their free wifi. Oh yes - free wifi.

Bobby Mizen hopes the cafe will become a community hub; it's available for groups to meet in the evenings in return for a donation to the Foundation, and once the business is properly bedded in they plan to employ local 18-24 year olds on the London Living Wage, allowing them to get used to regular employment and develop a sense of responsibility.

We love the whole concept of the Cafe of Good Hope - it puts charitable work at the heart of the community and encourages you to eat pastries at the same time. South East London has a new destination.

The Cafe of Good Hope, 216-218 Hither Green Lane, SE13.