A second Thanet Community Dress Drive -aimed at making sure all isle teens have outfits to attend school proms regardless of family income levels – will take place this Ban Holiday Monday (May 29).
Broadstairs mum-of-two and St Lawrence College staff member Catryn Beynon has had donations of some 200 outfits that will be given away free to school prom goers during the drive at Dreamland’s Ballroom.
The 41-year-old held the first dress drive at the Royal Harbour Academy last May and some 100 young people took away outfits on the day with more being kitted out after the event.
Items include dresses and suits to bags, make-up, jewellery and toiletries in a bid to make sure every Thanet young person can attend the end of school events.
Launching the initial event last year Catryn said: “I hate the idea that anyone might miss out on an opportunity to celebrate their achievements in school and mark such a significant milestone because their family might be in financial hardship.
Low income families
In 2021/22, 38,200 children under 16 in Kent were living in absolute low-income families. This is equivalent to 12.8% of the children in the county. Thanet district has the highest number and proportion of children living in absolute low income families in Kent (4,545, 18.1%).
Absolute low income is defined as a family in low income before housing costs. In 2021/22 the average (median) household income before housing costs was £565 per week (around £29,380 per year). 60% of the median income equates to £339 per week (around £17,600 per year).
Catryn said the death of her stepdad Stuart Ponsford in February had made her think the dress drive should be put on hold but then she felt it should go ahead in his memory.
She said: “My stepdad Stuart, who was like a best friend and more than just a stepdad, died very suddenly and in difficult circumstances in February. I couldn’t even face getting organised, but he was so integral to helping last year and was proud of what I achieved.
“In the weeks after his passing so many people, even people who only knew him vaguely, commented on how he was always ready to help anyone in need. I hope that’s something I have from him and so, although I have struggled with it this year, with lots of help from friends and family we’ve done it and were determined to do it in his memory. I hope I’ll be able to do him proud.
“During the donation period I had a message from a lady who said without our event last year her daughter couldn’t have gone to her prom. That was amazing- and it’s the real reason I’ve done it. The event last year was amazing- so many incredible families… those of us running the day were crying for most of the day.”
The event has been supported by Dreamland and Maurice Frost at New Perspective Printers and includes donations from Community Clothing Bank and the Thanet Hygiene Bank
The dress drive at Dreamland’s ballroom will run from 11am until 4pm on Monday.