NI effort to help Ukraine continues as Black Santa begins new sit-out

Just two months after finishing his Christmas sit-out, Belfast’s Black Santa will return to the steps of St Anne’s for a special fundraiser in aid of the people of Ukraine.

By Graeme Cousins
Monday, 7th March 2022, 8:02 pm
Updated Monday, 7th March 2022, 8:07 pm

Dean Stephen Forde begins his sit-out on Wednesday and this special appeal will run throughout Lent, with the Dean collecting donations at the cathedral each Wednesday from 12pm to 3pm for six weeks.

This is not the first time Black Santa has responded to humanitarian crises in the world. In 1974, Dean Sammy Crooks collected funds for people who lost everything following major flooding in Bangladesh, and following the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, Dean Houston McKelvey raised almost £1 million for devastated communities.

The Dean will be donning his familiar Black Santa cloak, and this appeal will work in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and Christian Aid.

Dean Stephen Forde Belfast’s Black Santa will return to the steps of St Anne’s for a special fundraiser in aid of the people of Ukraine.

Donations can also be made online via www.belfastblacksanta.org.

Dean Forde said: “As Christian people, and as human beings, we cannot watch the suffering of our closest neighbours and do nothing. When the fleeing mothers and children could be my own daughters or grandchildren, I cannot stand by.

“Let us remember that our Government has pledged to match every pound we raise with a further pound of government funding, doubling our personal giving. What we will give, we give for people just like ourselves, who have had to leave everything behind, not least their menfolk, and step into the arms of strangers across borders.

“Each of us struggles to know how best to respond to this crisis. The gift of open hearts and our generous giving is a powerful response in the face the destruction and despair of such a violent war.”

Elsewhere in NI, Hope For Youth Ministries based in Dromore have organised for 25 lorries to head to Poland with items for Ukrainian refugees arriving there.

Colin Tinsley said: “All of Northern Ireland has come together to help, from schoolchildren to grandparents. We’ve been blown away.”

Colin said that the demand for items such as clothing, blankets and toiletries had been met but financial help is ongoing to buy food. To date nearly £134,000 has been raised by Hope For Youth Ministries.

Mayor of Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council Glenn Barr has helped to organise a huge appeal in the borough, filling aid lorries bound for Poland and local retailer Gordon’s Chemists are donating £10,000 to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to assist with their ongoing humanitarian aid efforts.

Meanwhile Upper Bann DUP MP Carla Lockhart has called on Home Secretary Priti Patel to support missionaries and the church network in Ukraine as they seek to support and get aid to those in need.

Ms Lockhart raised the issue having spoken with a number of church groups locally who were acutely aware of the dangers that exist for those endeavouring to help others.

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