25 Feb 2016

Tamzin Outhwaite

Tamzin Outhwaite

A host of stars came out to support a royal reception held by The Children’s Society to mark the launch of Firebird, which made its West End debut at the Trafalgar Studios in London this month, in association with the charity.

Before attending the performance of Firebird, celebrities including Tamzin Outhwaite, Cherrelle Skeet and psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos, mingled with guests at the reception held at the Royal Horseguards Hotel, London, on Wednesday 24 February, in the presence of The Children’s Society’s Patron, HRH The Duchess of Gloucester.

After a sell-out preview run at Hampstead Downstairs at the end of last year, Phil Davies’ debut play Firebird, directed by Hampstead’s Artistic Director Edward Hall, transferred to the West End. It was written in response to the nationwide cases of child sexual exploitation throughout Britain, including those in Davies’ hometown of Rochdale. The play shows how easy it can be for vulnerable young people to fall victim to sexual abuse.

The reception, hosted by The Children Society’s Chief Executive Matthew Reed, was attended by about 40 guests. Matthew Reed spoke about the work of The Children’s Society and Edward Hall discussed how Firebird dramatises the realities that child victims of sexual exploitation face when they are all too often failed by the authorities who are meant to protect them.  

Tamzin Outhwaite said: 'I’m a mum and I passionately believe that it’s one of society’s priorities to keep children safe from harm. It’s horrifying to know that so many children, particularly those who are vulnerable such as children in care, are at risk of sexual exploitation. That’s why I support the valuable work of The Children’s Society and their Seriously Awkward campaign for change. I salute the bravery of Hampstead Theatre to bring Firebird to the stage.' 

Dr Linda Papadopoulos said: 'Child sexual exploitation is an issue that’s sadly often minimised or covered up, if we have any chance of addressing it it's vital that we begin to speak about it openly. Firebird can make uncomfortable watching, but it reflects the experience of many children across the country. That’s why I support The Children’s Society and their work to bring about lasting change for young people who are victims, or at risk of child sexual exploitation, through their Seriously Awkward campaign.'

Cherrelle Skeete said: 'I’m passionate in my belief that art can bring about social change, so Firebird is a very powerful way to highlight the issues surrounding child sexual exploitation. It’s a terrifying reality for too many children, so that’s why I’m supporting The Children’s Society and their vital work to help these children in projects across the country and their Seriously Awkward campaign.'

Edward Hall, Firebird’s director, said: 'Theatre has an incredible power to provoke discussion and sometimes even to bring about change. Without the platform for new writing, this power rapidly diminishes. Hampstead Downstairs exists for moments like now – unearthing new work that has the power to inspire, to challenge and to provoke; stories that reflect what’s going on in the world in which we live today. I’m delighted that Callie, Tahirah and Phaldut are reprising their roles.'

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: 'When we first saw Firebird at Hampstead Downstairs, we were bowled over. Its power to highlight the brutal reality that child victims of this crime face and that our services across the country deal with every day is remarkable. It is fantastic that the play is opening in the Trafalgar Studios, which will help raise awareness about this terrible truth.'

Throughout the play’s run, Parliament will be debating vital legislation — The Policing and Criminal Justice Bill — which has the potential to increase the ability to tackle child sexual exploitation and provide children and young people who are at risk, or have been victims of this crime, with more protection. The Children’s Society will be campaigning for changes to the bill to improve how these children are helped.

For more information about the charity’s Seriously Awkward campaign please visit www.childrenssociety.org.uk/seriouslyawkward

Media enquiries:

For more information, please call The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422 or email media@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to editors:

  • Firebird is showing at Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall, London SW1A 2DY from Thursday 18 February to Monday 21 March 2016.
  • Pictures are available at Rex Shutterstock.
  • The Children’s Society is a national charity that runs local services, helping children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, and have nowhere left to turn. We also campaign for changes to laws affecting children and young people, to stop the mistakes of the past being repeated in the future. Our supporters around the country fund our services and join our campaigns to show children and young people they are on their side.