21st Nov 2019 in Community

The ‘Black Santa’ tradition at Belfast Cathedral was first established in 1976 by Dean Sammy Crooks.  Now in its 43rd year, the Black Santa Annual Sit-Out reaches over 500 charities across Northern Ireland each year!

The Sit-Out attracts considerable attention in the local press, radio and television. Black Santa takes place the week before Christmas, and the Dean dresses in the familiar black, Anglican clerical cloak. From the first appeal, Dean Crooks was described in the local press as “Belfast’s Black Santa”. The description struck a lasting chord with the public!

Inspired by Dean Sammy Crooks, the four succeeding Deans of Belfast (Deans Shearer, McKelvey, Mann, and Forde) have continued the Black Santa tradition over more than forty years, so that each year the generosity of the people of Belfast and individuals across the world continues to help hundreds of charities.

The charities involved with Black Santa range from mental health and homeless charities, medical research, those caring for children, youth and the elderly, the improvement of employment opportunities, as well as a host of small charities which cannot afford paid fundraisers. A proportion of the funds is also given to Christian Aid.

Each year, Black Santa receives hundreds of applications for funding. After Christmas, the chosen organisations are invited to send representatives to the Good Samaritans Service, usually held in the following February where the donated funds are distributed.

Hundreds of charities across Northern Ireland need your support! An unusual fact about the Annual Black Santa Sit-Out is that the Cathedral does not take any donations for itself – all of the money raised during the sit-out goes directly to the Charities that apply.

Keep In Touch

Get our weekly update on the latest and greatest news and events straight to your inbox.