Free prom dresses and suits for Cardiff pupils amid cost of living crisis

In a few weeks time exams will be done and attention will turn to partying more notably end of year proms. 

Up and down the country young people are already planning what to wear, and while it’s exciting for them, it can often be a headache for parents. 

Outfits can be costly. The dress, the suit, the bag, the shoes and all the glamorous bits that come with a special night out soon all add up.

Looking the part can really put a strain on the purse strings but at Willows High School in Cardiff they hope to alleviate some of the financial pressure by setting up their very own pop up prom shop.

The school hopes for more suit donations. Credit: ITV Wales

Head of year 11, Roisin Cherrette said: "We know that prom is really difficult for parents because they want to make sure their children are in the best dresses and best suits so we know this can be quite a burden for some parents.

"We wanted to take that burden away to make prom accessible for everyone."

Over the last few weeks people in the local community and shops, in and around Cardiff, have been donating items. From dresses to ties to handbags, both the young men and women now have options to grab themselves an outfit for free. 

The shop is designed like a fitting room. Credit: ITV Wales

The prom shop has been set up in a small room in the school and it has been created in such a way that pupils will be able to have a special experience.

“We’ve tried to create a shop, a little bit like a fitting room would be, just so they can have the experience, as some pupils are not going to be able to go to the most expensive shops and have the experience of trying on dresses so we wanted to recreate that as much as we could.”

The brains behind the prom shop, which caters for everyone, was 16-year-old James O’Brien.

"I thought to myself everybody should have a fair chance no matter how rich or poor they actually are so I think everyone should have a fair chance to go to prom. It allows everyone now to go to prom. I think it’s the best thing the school has done."

In the days leading up to the opening some of the year 11 pupils were allowed a sneaky peek at the donations. They were delighted with what they saw and believe it will offer an opportunity to all within their year group to be able to go to this year’s prom. 

The goal is for all pupils to have an outfit for prom. Credit: ITV Wales

Year 11 pupil, Flora Hiiko, said: “This is going to make a huge difference as some kids can’t afford prom dresses, can’t afford shoes, so it’ll make a big difference that everyone can go to prom even though they can’t afford it."

Willows High School prom takes place on the 24th June and so far more than 80 pupils have confirmed they are attending. 

The school hopes that in the weeks leading up to prom that suitable clothing, shoes and accessories will continue to be donated so that more pupils will be able to attend and each can feel a million dollars on the night.