Northern Ireland

Enniskillen bar behind viral Christmas ad launches clothing to tackle loneliness

Una Burns (left), manager of Charlie’s Bar Enniskillen and Sarah Thompson (right), founder of embroidery company Ted & Stitch with Siobhan Casey from Age NI (Fiona Brown Communications/PA)
Una Burns (left), manager of Charlie’s Bar Enniskillen and Sarah Thompson (right), founder of embroidery company Ted & Stitch with Siobhan Casey from Age NI (Fiona Brown Communications/PA) Una Burns (left), manager of Charlie’s Bar Enniskillen and Sarah Thompson (right), founder of embroidery company Ted & Stitch with Siobhan Casey from Age NI (Fiona Brown Communications/PA)

The Enniskillen bar that created a viral Christmas advert is launching a range of clothing to help tackle loneliness in older people.

Charlie’s Bar Enniskillen has teamed up with local embroidery company Ted & Stitch to create a limited edition jumper, t-shirt, hat and bandana.

All profits from the sales in December will go to Age NI and the South West Age Partnership.

The ad, which has amassed millions of views, features an elderly man walking through town alone until he enters the bar and is joined by a couple who sit down, have a drink and talk to him.

Una Burns, manager and third generation of family to own Charlie’s Bar Enniskillen said the team are “over the moon” at the success of the advert.

“Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined the response we have received from around the world,” she said.

“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.

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“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.”

Una Burns (left), manager of Charlie’s Bar Enniskillen and Sarah Thompson (right), founder of Ted & Stitch, with Siobhan Casey, director of marketing and business development at Age NI (Fiona Brown Communications/PA)

Ms Burns said they wanted to use their momentum on social media to help raise money for older people.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

Age NI helps thousands of people every year by providing companionship, advice and support for older people, while 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.

Festive advert
Festive advert Charlie’s Bar in Enniskillen in their festive advert (Charlie’s Bar/PA) 

Siobhan Casey, director of marketing and business development at Age NI, said the charity was “delighted” to be involved in the campaign at a time when older people were increasingly facing financial stress and social isolation.

“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,” she said.

“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.

Festive advert
Festive advert Charlie’s Bar in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, went viral with their Christmas ad (Charlie’s Bar/PA) 

“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.”

A dedicated GoFundMe page has also been set-up to enable people to make a direct donation until Monday January 1 2024 – www.gofundme.com/f/charliesbar