from St Anne's

Black Santa raises £230,000

Belfast Cathedral - Black Santa raises £230,000

Black Santa has raised an impressive £230,000 despite Covid restrictions

More than 200 charities are set for a winter windfall after the announcement that Belfast's Black Santa Appeal raised £230,000 over Christmas.

The annual appeal was hit by Covid-19 restrictions, but was well up on the 2019 sit-out, which brought in £170,000.

The money will be distributed to 232 organisations working with the elderly, the young, people affected by unemployment and homelessness, mental health and the Arts. There is also a donation to Christian Aid.

"The total raised is quite amazing, given the challenges of Covid-19," said Dean Stephen Forde, who has completed three years as Black Santa in a cathedral tradition dating back to 1976.

"This figure does not include the small change coins which still have to be counted by the bank, nor the Gift Aid which will be reclaimed."

He said the 2020 appeal had been boosted by a "very generous legacy", but added that even without the legacy, fundraising generated £130,000 - only £40,000 less than the previous year's total.

The Dean also thanked Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) whose dedicated Black Santa website raised over £21,000.

During the annual sit-out, which began on December 17 on the steps of St Anne's Cathedral in Donegall Street and ended on Christmas Eve, Dean Forde was supported by the Bishops of Connor and Down and Dromore, Cathedral clergy and its Canons.

With the pandemic and Covid-19 restrictions, each day had new challenges for the Dean, who wore a mask as well as the traditional black cloak.

Funds are traditionally distributed to charities at the Good Samaritans Service, held on the first Sunday in February. Instead, the awards will be sent directly to each charity this year, with an online service to celebrate.