After Gun Violence Killed My Daughter, I Work To Make Sure No Parent Has To Walk The Road I’ve Walked

As part of our #HuffPostListens week in Birmingham, we are publishing a series of Life Less Ordinary stories from extraordinary Birmingham residents. Today, campaigner Beverley Thomas speaks about the shooting that killed her daughter Charlene Ellis and wounded her second daughter Sophie, and her work to end violence affecting young people in Birmingham. To illustrate the series we have commissioned the respected photographer Vanley Burke to do a series of portraits, which will be on show in Birmingham this week.

The night of 2 January 2003, there was a party in Solihull at a club. Days before my daughters Charlene and Sophie asked me if they could go. I said yes, they didn’t really go out so I thought I might as well.

Sophie, Charlene and their cousin Cheryl called a taxi from my house. I wasn’t aware what time it finished, all I knew was where it was. I stayed awake, just waiting, even for them just to ring to say they were on their way back home. At around 4 o’clock, my phone rang – it was a call saying that Sophie and Charlene had been shot. When I put the phone down, I was anxious and very frightened. At that point all I could think was ‘shot?’ I didn’t know what to do.

What I did know though was that they were shot on Birchfield Road. I didn’t live far from there, but at that point I told myself…

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