FORMER Southend schoolgirl Dame Helen Mirren will read a bedtime story in London’s Trafalgar Square as part of a campaign to help fight homelessness.

The actress is one of several celebrities uniting for The World’s Big Sleep Out, which aims to raise 50 million dollars to tackle homelessness.

The event will see 50 sleep outs worldwide.

Dame Helen said: "Homelessness on our streets is a real problem in the UK and for many nations throughout the world.

"This coupled with an unprecedented number of refugees being displaced internationally makes this a really important time to focus attention on the issue of global homelessness.

"The World's Big Sleep Out campaign will play an important role in shining the political spotlight on the issues of homelessness and displacement whilst raising considerable funds to make a big difference.

"I am pleased to have this opportunity to make a contribution by performing a bedtime story for participants in London, which will also be screened at sleep out events happening throughout the world.

"I'd like to encourage anyone who cares about this issue to get involved by sleeping out, in solidarity with those who have no choice, on December 7."

The World's Big Sleep Out was spearheaded by Josh Littlejohn, who said he was "blown away" by the response so far.

"It doesn't matter if you are taking part in Times Square or in your back garden with your family, by sleeping out for one night on December 7 we can simultaneously express our compassion for homeless people who have no other choice and raise lifesaving funds to make a difference," he said.

"We can also send a message to the world's political leaders that urgent action is required to address the human suffering that we each witness on our streets every day."

The event takes place on December 7. People are urged to register for an official event or sign up to "Host Your Own" sleep out in their backyard, office car park, high school or university campus by visiting