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A new and exciting mission for a new and hopeful charity

Cause Celeb highlights a celebrity’s work on behalf of a specific cause. This week, we speak with Mitch Winehouse about his foundation The Amy Winehouse Foundation. 

The Amy Winehouse Foundation was founded by Mitch and Janis Winehouse last year after the passing of their daughter and UK singer Amy Winehouse. The Foundation has worked with multiple Children’s hospice, homeless shelters and rehabilitation centers across the United Kingdom. In a very short period of time, they have raised over 30,000 pounds for Focus 12, a rehabilitation charity that helps people with addiction through residential and day-care facilities. The Amy Winehouse Foundation is continuing their work in the United States where their mission will be more focused on music education and music therapy.

Meg Zrini

Mitch and Janis Winehouse speak at the U.S. launch of The Amy Winehouse Foundation in NYC.

Mitch Winehouse is the father of the late Amy Winehouse. He is also father to Alex Winehouse. Winehouse worked as a taxi driver for most of his life and he was always a singer. At the age of 60, Winehouse just released a new album called Rush of Love and his book called Amy, My Daughter will be in stores soon.

Introduction by: Meg Zrini

Interview by: Meg Zrini

Q: What’d the difference between the Amy Winehouse Foundation in the UK and in the US?

Mitch: In the UK, we set it up immediately after Amy passed away and although we’re not doing anything wrong in such, we kind of adopted a scattered approach. We’re helping children’s hospices, homeless charities, and rehab facilities. We can do that in the UK because we’re there. We like to go and visit all these things, we play with the kids and we serve food at the shelters. We can’t do that here so the focus is very much on music education and music therapy. The best place for us to start is in New Orleans. We’re going to hopefully be working with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. They have two youth projects, one is a weekend project and the other one is a summer school project. We want to supplement that so we can get more kids into those classes. While we’re doing that, we also want to get some after school music clubhouses as well. We’re going to be able to reach lots of kids in the New Orleans area. The most disadvantaged kids.

Q: You just finished writing a book about your daughter, what do you want people to take away from the book?

Meg Zrini

Winehouse proudly presents the New Orleans Jazz orchestra with a check for $10,000.

Mitch: There’s so much to take away from it. To let people know what a wonderful girl she was, a normal girl and how addiction can afflict any family [even] as loving as ours. My family is the most loving family. Addiction can affect all families and the important thing is to let parents know, not to feel guilt. It’s not their fault.  Affliction is like any other disease or an illness. People will say well nobody told them to be a drug addict, nobody forced them into alcoholism. They don’t realize it’s an illness the same as measles is an illness or god forbid leukemia is an illness. If in the UK you’ve got leukemia or measles or anything, the state will pick you up and look after you. They’ll take you to the hospital, and they’ll make you better, whatever happens, they’ll look after you. If you have an addiction, they won’t do that, you’re left to die unless you’ve got money to pay for yourself. That’s the difference. That’s what we want people to understand, that addiction is an illness just like any other.

Q: if Amy was here, what would she say?

Mitch: She’d said “What’s all the fuss about?” She’d said “Just keep singing Dad” as she always said to me. We’d be having a laugh; we’d be really enjoying ourselves because that’s what we did. Even through our worst times and believe me they were terrible, we still managed to laugh through a part of it and we were almost there but not quite.