Posted: 23 February 2016

Firebird- it’s not just a story

Firebird, the first West End play tackling the theme of child sexual exploitation, has been getting great reviews.

It is a powerful play. The young actors really manage to bring the shocking tale to life.

Unfortunately the story of a vulnerable teenager groomed, hurt,and then let down by the people who were supposed to protect her, is not just the writer’s imagination.

In our services we help hundreds of teenagers stay safe and recover from such traumatic experiences.

We are campaigning to make sure the law protects children from exploitation.

Join the campaign

Below are four quotes from the play that we feel highlight the problem for older teenagers.

You can find out what we are doing to change the stories of young people impacted by child sexual exploitation.

See what we are doing to protect children from child sexual exploitation

‘That’s what drink does. Dun’t mix too well with being a reliable witness.’

We are campaigning to ask the Government to recognise in law that alcohol or drugs can be used to groom young people – and that this shouldn’t go against them in securing a prosecution.

We’re also campaigning for older teenagers to be protected in same way as under 16s currently are.

‘You’re getting expensive.'

 Character in the play crying on the floor

Perpetrators exploit a power imbalance, going to great lengths to use gifts, money or false affection to groom vulnerable young people.

We are asking for clear guidance to help professionals identify the signs and protect victims.

We also work with young people at high risk, such as those in the care system, so that they can keep themselves safe.

‘What’s a girl your age doing hanging round with grown men?’

Characters in the play Firebird

Many sexual offences against teenagers go unpunished because victims were scared of not being believed or thought the offence wasn’t worth reporting.

We work with young people to educate them about relationships, help them spot the signs that a relationship is becoming abusive and support them to report sexual crimes to the police.

‘How yer gunna make sure I’m alright?’

 Character in the play

The prosecution process can take years and is extraordinarily difficult for vulnerable young people.

Only a tiny proportion of cases of sexual offences against 16 and 17 year olds result in action against the perpetrator.

We advocate to help young people get justice for the crimes committed against them.

Help us do more

We have already made a big impact and helped hundreds of young people recover from the trauma of child sexual exploitation.

We now have an urgent opportunity to strengthen the protections and improve the support for 16 and 17 year olds at risk.

Add your voice to our campaign. 

Join the campaign


By Isobel Foulsham

Join the campaign

Help us protect the most vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds


Read more

Posted: 1 January 1970


Read more

Writer of Firebird, Phil Davies, discusses the play

Posted: 14 March 2015