Celebrating Young People!

The first ever Pope Francis Award was given to Ryan O'Neill from Merthyr Tydfil by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, for his work tirelessly supporting and inspiring young people at a glittering ceremony in London’s Leicester Square on 1 July 2015. Awards were made in eight categories, including care for creation, human dignity and the protection of workers, with a special award for most inspiring youth leader going to Bruno Gambini.

“Young people all too often get a bad name,” said Danny Curtin, Director of Million Minutes. “But they are amazing. Million Minutes is all about giving a voice to the young people that get overlooked - we’re delighted to have held these awards to celebrate all that young people are and all that they give to our world.”

The recipient of the Pope Francis Award also won a tailor-made study trip to South America to trace the footsteps of Pope Francis, or Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as he was known in Argentina.

More than 200 young people were nominated, with leading people comprising the judging panels for specific awards. The judging panels were consistently impressed with the standard of the nominations.

Before the Awards themselves, many lucky winners and other nominees were hosted by Baroness Hollins at the House of Lords for high tea and a set of workshops to support the winners in their work for social justice.


9th May 2011 - For Immediate Release On Sunday 8 May, Margaret Mizen helped to launch Million Minutes’ first campaign: a million minutes of silence. The silence aims to highlight the need to stand in solidarity with today’s young people who are so often not listened too, ignored and shut out of society.

Two days ahead of the third anniversary of the murder or her 16 year old son, Jimmy, Margaret joined the first day of ‘a million minutes of silence’. Accompanied by friends, family and supporters she led three generations of her family in a walk from St Paul’s Cathedral to Westminster Cathedral, all in complete silence.

Speaking after her silent walk Margaret Mizen said “This has been amazing. We have acted in solidarity not just with the hundreds of people staying silent across the country but also with those young people whom Million Minutes hope to support. Young people today are wonderful and we must continue to promote how wonderful they are.” Mrs Mizen went on to say “Million Minutes is set to turn into something big. I’m very proud and honoured to be a Champion of the charity. I encourage everyone to get involved. It has the potential to change lives!”

Three generations of the Mizen family took part in the silent walk. As well as two of her sons, 26 year old Tommy, and 11 year old George, her 8 month old granddaughter Eva was also miraculously silent for the 3 mile route.

Million Minutes, a new charity, was founded earlier this year to support projects which help young people to transform their lives and to put Catholic social teaching into practice.

Danny Curtin, cofounder and Trustee, said “A million minutes of silence is a smile idea. We are creating a deafening silence to speak up for our young people. They are worth so much, and all too often, they are ignored, overlooked and not enabled to fulfill their potential. With this loud, counter-cultural silence we are saying that something needs to change. As a society we need to support our young people to have their voice heard, to get active and to make a difference.”

Throughout the UK, hundreds of people of all ages joined in the start of the collective silence. In Bolton, young adults at the Schoenstatt Shrine met throughout the day to complete their pledge of 1000 minutes of silence. Members and youth leaders from the Impact group in St Edmund’s parish, Millwall, wore signs to explain to other parishioners that they were staying silent throughout the weekend. They totaled 6,480 minutes between them.

So far 650,000 minutes have been pledged nationwide. There is still the opportunity for others to pledge and to stay silent over the coming weeks. See www.millionminutes.org for more details and to pledge your minutes.


Pictures (download below)

George and Margaret

George and Margaret 2

Leaving St Pauls

Margaret – Big Ben

St Pauls Cathedral

St Pauls Cathedral2

Walkers arrive on Westminster Cathedral Piazza

Westminster Cathedral (Photo includes Danny Curtin - back right)

Whitney, Marta, Louise (St Edmunds Parish, Millwall – Impact Group)

Notes for editors:

1. For more information or to arrange an interview with Margaret Mizen please call Danny Curtin on 07957190516 from 12noon on Monday 9 May.

2. Margaret Mizen runs the Jimmy Mizen Foundation with her husband Barry and their family. The Foundation is committed to working for peace among young people.

3. As well as The Jimmy Mizen Foundation, Million Minutes is also supporting the Cardinal Hume Centre, the Young Christian Workers, and a youth leadership project in Somaliland via the UK charity, Progressio. A grant making fund for youth projects throughout the UK will also be launched with the proceeds raised from the sponsored silence.

4. Alongside Margaret Mizen, Fr Christopher Jamison OSB, Paschal Uche and Delia Smith are all champions (patrons) of Million Minutes. Delia Smith says to young people: “What my seventy years on this planet can offer you is my utter conviction of the importance of allowing some time for stillness and silence in daily life. There are three main reasons for this. One is that it gradually enables us to understand ourselves more deeply. Two: this then expands our capacity to understand and relate to others and to the world. Three: as the deeper reflective part of our human nature develops it will draw us inexorably towards God. “Why not begin with Million Minutes? Don’t settle for life on the surface of things. The world needs young people like you to take up the challenge. In the words of St Paul ‘God’s power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine’ (Ephesians 3. 20).” Please note that Delia Smith is not available for interview due to diary commitments.

6. Anyone can volunteer to stay silent and get sponsored for it. More details can be found on the Million Minutes website, www.millionminutes.org

7. Million Minutes is a company limited by guarantee (number 7442390) and a charity registered in England and Wales (number 1140079).

More than 350,000 minutes pledged at Million Minutes launch

PRESS RELEASE – for immediate release, 1 February 2011 378,000 minutes of silence were pledged by those attending the launch of a new Catholic charity that will support young people to take action in their communities and speak out on issues that concern them.

Million Minutes encourages young people and all who care about them to stay silent in solidarity with young people who are silenced by society and as a way to get sponsored to raise money for local projects both in the UK and overseas.

Speaking at the launch, which took place on 31 January 2011 (feast of St Don Bosco) at St Mary Moorfields in the City of London, Mrs Margaret Mizen, a Million Minutes Champion, said, “Young people aren’t bad, but many do lead tough lives. I’m thrilled to be part of a new Catholic initiative that will help.”

Pascal Uche, who greeted the Pope on the steps of Westminster Cathedral during the Papal Visit on behalf of the young people of England and Wales and is also a Million Minutes Champion, said, “My friends and I are going to stay silent – it’s a great witness to our faith and our faith in other young people”.

The launch attracted more than 130 people, including young people from residential centres and local youth groups, clergy, and many from the youth ministry and justice and peace communities from around the country.

Speaking at the launch, trustee Danny Curtin said, “This is an idea whose time has clearly come. It’s wonderful to be able to get people to do something countercultural and based in our Catholic tradition and at the same time raise money for a great cause.”

Delia Smith, Britain’s best selling cookery writer and Million Minutes Champion, sent the following message of encouragement: “I am supporting Million Minutes because it's important to stand alongside young people.  You have so much to offer the world at present.”

Million Minutes aims to get 695 people or groups to stay silent for 24 hours, which would equal more than a million minutes. Anyone can take part, and all details are on the new website, millionminutes.org

Notes to editors

  1. To arrange an interview with any of the Million Minutes champions or the team behind Million Minutes, please call Danny Curtin on 07957190516. Please note, Delia Smith is unable for interview due to diary commitments.
  2. Photos from the launch of Million Minutes are available, please contact stephend@millionminutes.org
  3. Fr Christopher Jamison OSB is the Director of the National Office of Vocations and was Abbot of Worth Abbey. His TV programmes include The Monastery and The Big Silence. His books include Finding Sanctuary and Finding Happiness.
  4. Margaret Mizen runs the Jimmy Mizen Foundation with her husband Barry. The Foundation is committed to working for peace among young people.
  5. The Youth champion is Paschal Uche, who welcomed Pope Benedict XVI on the steps of Westminster Cathedral during last year’s Papal Visit.
  6. Million Minutes is a company limited by guarantee (number 7442390) and a charity registered in England and Wales (number 1140079)