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Why I'm spending Saturday night sleeping in Trafalgar Square, writes Julie Etchingham

Julie Etchingham in London's Trafalgar Square on Saturday evening, Credit: ITV News

Tonight I will be read a bedtime story by Dame Helen Mirren.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Admittedly, I have to share her. There will be approximately 2,000 of us listening whilst we bed down for the night in Trafalgar Square.

And across the world in 50 cities, from Sydney to New Delhi to Cardiff and New York, there will be thousands doing the same in an global fundraiser for homeless and displaced people.

The aim was to get $1 million (£761,000) in one night - but this has been far surpassed, with more than $10 million (£7,610,000) being raised before midnight.

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Whatever the latest hourly storm raging around this toxic election - the figures around homeless in Britain alone are stark and shameful.

Street homelessness has risen 165% since 2010.

Some 726 homeless people died in England and Wales last year. That’s two people a day. Someone’s daughter, someone’s son.

This Christmas the charity Shelter say 135,000 children will be homeless and living in temporary accommodation on Christmas Day.

Trafalgar Square on Saturday night as fundraisers camped out. Credit: ITV News

Tonight alone obviously won’t solve these appalling circumstances.

But for one night it’s an moment of solidarity - not only with those who don’t have a place to call home - but with all those much better than ourselves who bring expertise, compassion and dedication - day in and day out to help those who need it most.

I have so many layers of thermals on I can barely move.

I would absolutely love it if you could donate on my fundraising page for The Big Sleep Out.