by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

A Christmas advert that went viral around the world and captured the hearts of millions of people has inspired the launch of a limited edition apparel range which aims to help two local charities in the work they carry out to be there for older people on their hardest days. Charlie’s Bar Enniskillen has teamed up with local embroidery company, Ted and Stitch, to create a limited edition jumper, t-shirt, hat and bandana and all profits from the sales in December will go directly to Age NI and the South West Age Partnership (SWAP).

Age NI helps thousands of people every year by providing companionship, advice and support for older people who need it most. The South West Age Partnership represents 70 smaller local age sector groups across the Omagh and Fermanagh area and delivers community services and activities to older people.

Una Burns, manager and third generation of family owned Charlie’s Bar Enniskillen said: “We are over the moon at the success of our Christmas advert. Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined the response we have received from around the world. Sadly, thousands of people across Northern Ireland experience loneliness and this is only heightened at Christmas time – which is why it is so important to show kindness, as our ad showed a smile or a simple hello can go a long way.

It’s hard to believe that the advert only launched a week ago – in this time over 10 million people have viewed our social media channels and we’ve had over 20,000 new followers. We’ve had visitors from Donegal, Westport, Cork, Dublin, Co Mayo and even Norway on Saturday. We’ve received so many postcards, letters and phone calls from around the world, as far away as Los Angeles and Canada. It’s been incredible.”

This has inspired us to see what else we could do to continue to harness the power of community and storytelling to help make positive change. We are delighted to partner with Ted & Stitch, another family-run Northern Ireland business, to create a wonderful range of merchandise to give the people the chance to have their own part of Charlie’s Bar and help us raise much-needed funds to support people in our communities.”

Siobhan Casey, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Age NI said: “Age NI is delighted to be involved in this campaign with our partner South West Ageing Partnership (SWAP). Together we provide advice, care and wellbeing support to older people and groups.

We are delighted that Charlie’s Bar has shone a spotlight on the devastating impact of loneliness on the lives of older people across Northern Ireland which has been exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis. Almost 80,000 people over 65 live alone in Northern Ireland, one in five over 55s are experiencing high levels of loneliness and we are hearing daily from callers to our advice line about their anxiety over heating their homes and having enough money.”

“We are extremely grateful to Charlie’s Bar for helping raise awareness of this issue at a global level. Their message was simple and demonstrates how small gestures can touch people’s hearts. Every year we ask people to look out for their older family, friends and neighbours, particularly during Winter. An extra meal, a trip to the shops, de-icing driveways, taking out bins, or a quick chat can make a huge difference,” Siobhan added.

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Una Burns (left), Manager and third generation of family owned Charlie’s Bar Enniskillen and Sarah Thompson (right), Founder of embroidery company, Ted and Stitch are joined by Siobhan Casey, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Age NI



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