The 2019 Black Santa Sit-Out for charities gets underway on the steps of St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, on Monday 16th December, 2019.
This is the Very Rev Stephen Forde, Dean of Belfast’s, second full Christmas Sit-Out, and the 43rd Black Santa Appeal since the tradition was begun by Dean Sammy Crooks in December 1976. It has been maintained by successive Deans, Jack Shearer, Houston McKelvey and John Mann.
Black Santa stages his sit-out on the steps of Belfast Cathedral in the week before Christmas. Dean Crooks was dubbed Black Santa by the media because he wore a black Anglican clerical cloak to protect him from the elements, and the name has stuck for more than four decades.
Each year, the people of Belfast and beyond dig deep and donate funds to support the Black Santa Appeal. This money is then distributed to more than 200 charities at the Cathedral’s Good Samaritans Service in February each year.
The charities to benefit include groups working with mental health, the homeless, medical research, those caring for children, youth and the elderly, organisations working to improve employment opportunities, as well as a host of small charities which cannot afford paid fundraisers. A proportion of the money raised is also given to Christian Aid.
Black Santa goes ‘contactless’ for donations
This year, Black Santa is going contactless, allowing people to make a donation with just a tap of a card. Bags of pennies collected through the year, notes raised at special events in support of the appeal, and small change dug out of a pocket are still warmly welcomed. Online donations can also be made on the Belfast Cathedral website.