PwC NI volunteers become Belfast’s Black Santa elves and make a cyber sit out this Christmas

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PwC NI is working with Belfast Cathedral to bring the 2020 Black Santa Sit-Out into a digital era.

The Black Santa Sit-Out has been collecting donations from people every Christmas for the last 44 years. Each year, the Dean stands on the steps of the Cathedral for seven days in the run-in to Christmas, collecting donations in a barrel. Last year, the Sit-Out raised £168,000. Every penny donated was shared among almost 200 charities from across Northern Ireland, many of whom rely on it to help some of the most vulnerable people in society.

How PwC got involved

This year, the pandemic means fewer people will be coming into the city centre. Concerned that the charities could lose out even more than they already have done, through the cancellation of traditional fund raising activities like marathons and coffee mornings, the Dean, Stephen Forde, was anxious to see what he could do to maintain the support from the Black Santa Sit-Out. 

He approached the firm with a request for help - and our people immediately stepped up to the task. These volunteers created a website, carried out interviews, filmed charities and developed merchandise - a world away from their day jobs. 

The impact of volunteering

The firm’s NI Place & Purpose lead Lynne Rainey is one of the volunteers, working in the comms team to create content for the website. 

“It would have been very easy to write a cheque, but this is about so much more than money. 

“External people are often surprised when we get involved in things like this, both in terms of our level of engagement and the difference we can make. Within an hour of asking for people to volunteer, we had over 40 responses. It highlights the importance of our volunteer programme - people want to be part of things which are much bigger than themselves. 

“I can see how much it’s meant to our people to be part of this campaign. It’s happened at a time when there’s so much frustration and worry; people are under pressure not just in their professional lives but also personal. The opportunity to work on something that focuses on people who are doing so much good in the community has been incredible. 

“It’s also a great chance for them to test themselves in a new role they might like to consider, but haven’t put themselves forward for before. It might just help them to develop new career pathways. I wanted to be a journalist when I was growing up, so being part of the comms team now has been a real buzz. Some of the team have been helping to create the first merchandise that the Sit-Out has ever sold, with a limited edition beanie; others have been interviewing or filming; and others have been working up a social media blitz - it’s a world away from their day jobs!

The 2020 approach

“I grew up outside the city, but even as a child, I knew about Belfast’s Black Santa. You can’t help but be touched by the generosity of people - the desire, year after year, to give to people who are less fortunate. Sometimes it’s been astonishing like the year when the Sit-Out was extended to support the Asian Tsunami Appeal - when people here raised £1.6million in just a few weeks. 

“After the year we’ve had, people really need help and the charities, which do an incredible job, are relying on the fund more than ever before. It would be incredible if we can encourage people to get involved this year.

“For the first time, Black Santa will have a website where people can go to donate safely or buy the beanie, as well as learn about some of the charities that their money helps. The stories really highlight how much the Sit-Out fund is transforming people’s lives and it has been a real privilege to be a part of this campaign.”

To donate or buy a limited edition beanie, visit


Contact us

General Enquiries

Northern Ireland, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)289 024 5454

Experienced Careers

Northern Ireland, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)289 024 5454

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