A school is working with an iconic East End theatre to give children a chance to get involved in the arts.

The Hackney Empire's Creative Futures programme reaches 4,000 disadvantaged young people every year.

Pupils from Walthamstow's Forest School performed at an event at the theatre to launch a partnership between the school and the theatre on Thursday (May 16).

Actress Raquel Cassidy, who appeared in CCBC’s The Worst Witch and ITV’s Downton Abbey, was among guests.

She said: “I could not be more moved by what I have heard tonight.

"As far as I am concerned, I am an actor and acting saved me and continues to save me every day. But, I don’t think the Creative Futures Programme is about creating actors or even artists. It’s about opening up so many possibilities to children who wouldn’t otherwise have them.”

The event was attended by Forest School warden Marcus Cliff Hodges, deputy head co-curricular Gemma Van Praagh at Forest, Yamin Choudury, the theatre's director of artistic programme, and Jo Hemmant, its executive director.

Ms Choudury said: “Without the support of partners such as Forest School this work might not exist, and all of us at Hackney Empire would like to express our sincere gratitude to the governors, teachers and parents at Forest School for their shared passion and vital enthusiasm to create change and transformation amongst those who are most in need and often most ignored. We very much look forward to working together to create necessary, long-term and sustainable impact in our communities.”

The Hackney Empire, which dates back to 1901, is one of the largest theatres outside London’s West End with 1,300 tickets on sale every night.