Busking in Brixton for a better world

Three young musicians will be playing one of a marathon 20-gig series in Brixton today. Simone Richardson finds out why

buskers
The Mocktales outside Brixton Tube earlier this month

Teen buskers The Mocktales will be outside Brixton Tube later today (21 May), playing one of 20 fundraising events they will perform this month.

They are in aid of the Mizen Foundation, set up following the murder of 16-year-old Jimmy Mizen in a South London bakery by a 19-year-old in 2008.

The charity, run by Jimmy’s mother Elizabeth Mizen MBE and father Jimmy, appealed for supporters to take part in its fundraising campaign #20daysinmay.

The Mocktales will be playing and singing their souls out for the Mizen Foundation.

One song will be The Jam classic, That’s Entertainment, a favourite of Simon Cartlidge, dad of two of the three-piece, sister and brother Isabelle and Matthew.

Formed during lockdown with drummer Ice, the band’s first fundraising gig was on 11 May and they have or will also play in Wandsworth, Putney, Clapham, Brockwell Park with a double session in Brixton.

“We decide the location the day before as being weather dependent and advertise on the morning via Instagram @the_mocktales_,” says Olivia, mum of Isabelle and Matthew.

Today’s will be the second Brixton performance.

Well worth going along. Not just to hear and watch the Mocktales but to give some money towards The Mizen Foundation by throwing in some cash to help.

The Mizen Foundation has shared Jimmy’s story with audiences ranging from children in schools to prisoners. Its message is: “Forgiveness, peace and hope”.

The foundation says issues of confrontation and violence in our communities will not be altered by harsher punishment and retributive action.

It encourages local businesses to become “safe havens”.

These are safe places young people can turn to if they feel they are in danger.

Shops display a sticker that promises protection.

“The key to Safe Havens is connected communities,” the foundation says. “It’s about taking young people beyond their school gates and inspiring them to learn about their local community and how they can have a positive impact on it.

“Young people build relationships with shopkeepers and other community members such as the police, MPs, faith leaders and parents.”

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Isabelle explains the Mocktales’ personal motivation for their fundraising marathon: “Our aim is to create safer streets in London for adolescents and we are personally doing it because of Jimmy’s tragic story.

“He was an innocent, safe kid and really kind and you can read about the story on our Instagram there is a link to the whole thing.

“His family and Jimmy lived where my parents work and so it was quite close to us.

“So my parents’ hair salons and businesses have become safe havens so kids that have felt like they were in danger then come in there and seek shelter and that is what the Mizen Foundation do.’’

Drummer Ice emphasises how her drums have beaten the way with support saying: “It has been a lot easier to play drums, doing it again and again, because I know I am doing it for a good  cause for people around London.

“It helps me to know that if anything did go wrong for myself I had somewhere safe to be and people to support me.

“I find it inspirational and these 20 days could be impossible it wasn’t for a cause. Every single gig I really want to do.’’

Matthew catches attention with his guitar playing, singing, cool hair – and with his sense of rhythm and beat he draws in the audience.

He sums it all up in a sentence including his love of Brixton busking saying: “It is a good fund raiser. Music is a strong and powerful thing and it gets people thinking quite a lot of the time.

“Here in Brixton it is a perfect place because it is thought-provoking and very diverse.

“So we love playing here and we like spreading the word and charity of. So thank you so much Brixton Blog.’’

The Mocktales have set themselves a £1,000 target. Brixton donated £111.88 towards that on Saturday (15 May).

Donations can be made via the Mocktales’ Instagram account or JustGiving.

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