Wakefield prom dress scheme launched to ease financial pressures on pupils

Support: Pupils Jaymee-Leigh, Molly, Angell, Alyssa and Danielle with some of the donated dresses.
Support: Pupils Jaymee-Leigh, Molly, Angell, Alyssa and Danielle with some of the donated dresses.

More than 100 prom dresses have been donated to a school as part of a scheme to ease financial pressure on students.

St Thomas à Becket Catholic Secondary School, on Barnsley Road, launched the donation scheme earlier this year.

Staff hoped to collect a few dresses for students to borrow, but donations flooded in, and the school is now home to more than 100 prom dresses - despite having only 75 Year 11 girls.

As well as the dresses, the school have also received a number of suits and pairs of shoes, a selection of jewellery, and accessories and even makeup.

Science teacher Rebecca Atkinson, who helped to organise the scheme, said: “It’s just an idea that we had at the end of last school year.

“We were already aware that they were under huge amounts of pressure from school having to buy revision guides and get ready for college.

“We wanted to try and reduce that cost and give them a bit of fun at school, so we advertised for donations.

“People have been just incredibly generous.

“We have got a lot of vintage stuff, things that have never been worn.

“I didn’t think it would get this big, not for a moment.

“I thought we’d just have a little collection of bridesmaid dresses that people could borrow.

“It’s just been amazing to have the support of everybody.”

The price of going to a prom varies, with costs including clothes, transport, tickets and makeup, but in 2017, it was estimated that it was a £90 million a year industry, costing parents an average of £220 per child.

But Ms Atkinson said the donation scheme has been beneficial for a wide range of students.

She said: “It’s accessible to everybody, it’s a fantastic opportunity. There’s no stigma attached to it, and there’s a recycling angle too.

“For children who have learning difficulties and may not want to go into a shop, it’s very daunting, and this lets them do it in a safe environment.

“We’ve still got people coming in and out, changing their minds and that kind of thing.

“It’s nice for the kids to realise they can buy a ticket to prom and not have any expenses on top of that.”

St Thomas à Becket hope to be able to share their collection with other local schools in the coming years.