On the 30th March 2022, South & City College Birmingham was proud to open its doors to the patients and their families from the Birmingham Children’s Hospital as part of a collaboration event with the College’s Fashion Department.
As part of an idea originally conceived by Andrea Jester, Consultant Plastic/Hand Surgeon Birmingham’s Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and the Children’s Hospital team, the Children’s Hospital approached Tahmina Butt – one of the College’s lecturers in Art, Design & Fashion, with the hope of creating a project, which would challenge stereotypes surrounding accessible fashion.
During the night, Andrea explained her thinking behind the collaboration itself, explaining that:
“Chronically disabled children in the hospital are often confined to hoodies, sweatpants and t-shirts because they are comfortable, and there is nothing else comfortable on the market. Yet, 99% of young children have an interest in looking good but cannot always afford to have this luxury. Therefore, the idea of having a fashion show would allow us to have a platform to raise awareness of such an important issue many of our patients are facing. It’s absolutely amazing, what the whole team have put together, honestly, it’s amazing.”
Once a plan had been set in place and the collaboration given the green light, students and staff from the fashion department started to plan how they would bring this exciting idea to life. Despite initial struggles from the pandemic and various lockdowns, the staff and student team involved came together to create not only amazing custom garments but also long-term connections and valuable experiences that they will carry with them forever.
From regular visits to the Children’s Hospital to meeting the patients in order to find out more about what needs they had – students and staff were able to get to know the children involved on a 1-1 level, acting professionally and dedicating themselves to their work in the process.
When asked what the project has meant to the students at South & City College, Carmen Burkett – one of the lecturers in Fashion & Textiles who helped to lead the collaboration said that:
“It has been great for our students because the industry in this country doesn’t always do our creative talent justice. For our students to get this live experience has been fantastic – especially when they get to highlight such an important need to make fashion more accessible for everyone.”
As the spotlights switched on, the children from the hospital took to the runway with confidence and personality – each of them wearing their own custom outfits, which were designed with their personalities, needs, interests and comfortability in mind. Not only were they wearing outfits designed by South and City College fashion students, but they also had the opportunity to be made up by some of the incredible hair and beauty students and staff team – helping the children to really get a feel for what it is like to experience that celebrity lifestyle and truly craft their own unique looks.
Across the night, the children showcased two different outfits, one designed for comfort, and the other for a more evening/formal feel. The crowd loved the looks that were shown – each met with tremendous applause giving the children their own moment to shine and feel like a celebrity.
One of the children from the hospital, Tarandeep, offered her words why tonight was so important to her – explaining that:
“I thought tonight would be a great way to show off creativity – because I really like fashion! High street shops need to start being more accessible because everyone should have the opportunity to wear what they want to wear and be able to express their creativity in their own way.”
As the evening came to a close, Surbjit Singh – Head of School for Art, Design & Fashion, shared his heartfelt words about how much the event had not only inspired him but also inspired the College through the tremendous work that the students & staff of the Fashion department have created. Sharing how such a brilliant idea has helped to encourage everyone involved to think differently, chase after opportunities and continue to grow:
“There have been many events within the College, as well as around the College which has had a focus around fundraising – thinking of ways that we can support the Hospital. With over £6,000 raised for Birmingham Children’s Hospital, we look forward to many more events like this. On behalf of South & City College, all its staff, its learners, and of course the Children’s Hospital and everyone involved – we just want to say, thank you. We are so proud to be ambassadors and advocates for such an exciting event, and we are so happy to see all the children, speak to all the parents, have the dialogues we have had tonight – and see how an experience like this is so memorable for these children now, tomorrow and for the years to come.”
South & City College is incredibly proud of the whole Fashion team, Hair & Beauty team, and of course, the student team involved in helping to make this idea a reality. The students have shown such passion and dedication to their studies and helping to make the ideas of the children come alive, and the staff highlight their outstanding knowledge in their fields with such a fantastic first fashion show collaboration.
South and City College would like to thank Birmingham Children’s Hospital for allowing this collaboration to happen and for inspiring the College’s learners to help so many children grow and live to their fullest potential. A big thank you as well goes to the parents, the children and their families for being part of the project and fashion show, the College hopes that the memories of the project stay with everyone involved for a lifetime.
Inspired by the story and want to study Fashion yourself? Why not explore the courses that are currently on offer and of course follow the Fashion Department’s Official Instagram for live updates on what they are working on next: @sccb_fashion