The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Pat McCarthy, yesterday showed his solidarity with the city's Black Santa by paying him a visit to St Anne's Cathedral.
He met the Dean of Belfast, Dr Houston McKelvey, beside his famous 'collection barrel' outside the Cathedral and wished him well for the outcome of this year's 'sit-out', which marks the 30th anniversary of the event.
It was started in 1976 by Dean Samuel Crooks and continued by his successor, Dean Jack Shearer, and more recently by Dean McKelvey.
Since then around £3m has been raised for a wide range of local charities, and for the work of Christian Aid and its overseas partners.
Dean McKelvey said today: "In the first three days of the sit-out we have already raised just over £170,000 and there are three more days on the street, until Christmas Eve. The barrel will also be available inside the Cathedral until the end of January."
Shortly afterwards the proceeds of this year's sit-out will be handed over to representatives of local charities, at a special service in St Anne's. Last year the sit-out raised more than £200,000.
Meanwhile, the Black Santa in Dublin is continuing his annual fast. Canon Tom Haslins, vicar of St Ann's Church in Dawson Street, started his fifth sit-out on Monday. Last year he collected more than £20,000.