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Havering charity making young women smile with free prom dresses to open Romford boutique

PUBLISHED: 17:00 30 January 2020

The Smile charity is launching its third prom appeal. Picture: Megan Phillips

The Smile charity is launching its third prom appeal. Picture: Megan Phillips

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A Harold Wood charity hopes to help more young women from low income families attend their school prom.

The Smile charity is launching its third prom appeal. Picture: Megan PhillipsThe Smile charity is launching its third prom appeal. Picture: Megan Phillips

Smile in Church Road is getting ready to launch its Free Prom appeal for the third year running.

It gathers donations of old prom dresses and funds to help young women attend their school prom.

Maria Quaife, chief executive of Smile - which stands for Support Motivate Invest Lead and Evolve - told the Recorder: "[The donations] make a huge difference.

"These girls have got it in their mind that because their families are on a low income they are never going to be able to go to the prom.

"This is the most emotional appeal that we do because it's so hands-on.

"We're dealing with mums who thought they would never see their daughter in a prom dress.

"It's all about improving their wellbeing."

The clients get to keep the dress after the event and can then use it for future functions and events.

Smile is also opening a new unit in North Street, Romford, in early February and the charity hopes that the boutique shop will be a more accessible and appealing site for its customers.

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"This is going to be our new community hub," said Maria.

"We're hoping to open it up more to the clients.

"People can often find us through Facebook but we struggle to get the knowledge out 
there to people that we're here to help."

The charity works closely with schools, social services and front line professionals and it takes on self-referrals from families.

All bookings are subject to a consultation with a member of Smile's welfare team.

The charity also supports vulnerable families who are living in hostels and temporary accommodation across the UK.

Maria added: "We're currently working with 26 hostels from Stratford to Southend.

"If you're struggling and you're on a low income please do contact us."

Smile's fittings will be running from April to June.

If people want to donate a dress they will be able to stop by the boutique in 52 North Street on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 10am and 2pm.

Visit smilelondonessex.com or gofundme.com/f/prom-appeal-2020 to make a donation.

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