A celebrity chef and Belfast Cookery School tutor has donated more than 15 handbags worth almost £2,000 to Age NI following the Belfast Telegraph's Feel The Benefit campaign.
Rozanne Stevens, an author and food journalist, decided to give them to charity after reading older people's stories of hardship in the Belfast Telegraph.
The 35-year-old native South African businesswoman’s collection - comprising a mixture of designer handbags and those with sentimental value — can be purchased from Age NI’s own eBay shop.
Her donation follows last month’s awareness initiative that aimed to help older people apply for the benefits to which they are legitimately entitled after it emerged that £200m goes unclaimed every year.
Annual benefits worth more than £147,000 have so far been identified - which is money that would otherwise have been lost to those in need.
Age NI marketing director Siobhan Casey praised Rozanne for her generosity.
“After speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Rozanne offered to donate her collection of designer handbags, as well as some clothing, to our eBay shop to support fundraising efforts for our advice service,” she said.
“Rozanne has given us some wonderful pre-loved designer handbags and also leather coats which we hope will generate excellent eBay sales so that Age NI can continue to deliver vital services for older people in Northern Ireland.
“We'll be stocking our eBay store next week with Rozanne's designer goods so people will be able to go online and start bidding,” Siobhan added.
Around 500 people die each year in Northern Ireland from cold-related illnesses and pensioner poverty.
Rozanne said she hoped her handbags would help Age NI’s fundraising endeavours.
“Handbags have always played a special role in my life, but it’s time to say goodbye to some of them,” she said.
“If they can now help Age NI improve the lives of older people, then that’s even better!”