Public’s generosity hailed as Belfast’s Black Santa raises tens of thousands of pounds for Ukraine aid

Belfast’s Black Santa has thanked everyone who contributed to a special Black Santa Appeal for Ukraine, which has raised more than £56,000 to date.

By Roderick McMurray
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 4:02 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 4:47 pm

The Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev Stephen Forde, was speaking on the sixth and final day of the sit-out on the steps of Belfast Cathedral.

The fundraiser began on Wednesday, March 9 and continued each Wednesday afternoon through the Lent period, finishing today (Wednesday, April 13).

Dean Forde said: “A massive thank you to everyone who has contributed to the current total of £56,784 raised for the Black Santa Lent Appeal for Ukraine.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Dean Stephen Ford, who sat out with Bryan Higgins, hands a cheque to Rosamond Bennett from Christian Aid and Jenny Williams from Habitat for Humanity. Picture: Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

“Over the past six weeks of Lent, unimaginable horrors have been endured by the citizens of Ukraine. These traumas will take decades, if not generations to heal.

“At the same time, the equivalent of more than half the population of this island have fled as refugees - women and children who have left behind their husbands, sons and fathers to fight a brutal invading army.”

Dean Forde presented the proceeds of his Black Santa Appeal to Jenny Williams, Chief Executive of Habitat for Humanity Ireland, and Rosamond Bennett,

Chief Executive of Christian Aid Ireland.

The Dean continued: “Through the generosity of so many from Belfast and beyond, humanitarian support is being provided to people whose lives have been torn apart by a needless war. This giving has provided the resources for Habitat for Humanity and Christian Aid Ireland to respond to immediate need, and establish longer term support.

“Food, battery packs for mobile phones, rucksacks, heaters and tents have been provided at border crossings and railway stations. Medicines and emergency food is making its way to Ukraine. Accommodation is being fitted out for thousands of women and children in the countries neighbouring Ukraine.

“All this has been made possible through the generosity of those who have given.”

Black Santa has been a familiar sight in Donegall Street every December since the tradition began in 1976, but in March this year, Dean Forde brought out the familiar collecting barrel in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

This is not the first time Black Santa has responded to humanitarian crises in the world. In 1974, Dean Sammy Crooks collected funds following major flooding in Bangladesh, and Dean Houston McKelvey staged a special sit-out in the wake of the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004.

The Ukraine Appeal will remain open online at www.belfastblacksanta.org for anyone wishing to make a donation.