While Dame Helen Mirren has admitted that philanthro­py hasn’t been as big a part of her life as she would like, she says that the festive season is a time she likes to give back. “It’s interestin­g, in particular Christmas seems to bring that feeling of community out in people,” she says. “Christmas is such an important part of the year, whatever religion you are. It’s an important social and communal moment in the calendar for all of us to come together over food and enjoy the sparkles – and sometimes the excesses and gift giving – all the pleasures of Christmas.”

Last year Mirren wore a vintage festive knit while holding messages from children across the world in support of Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day campaign. Mirren was pictured holding a message that read ‘Defend the rights of girls’, written by a 14-year-old named Maya from Syria.

For the past few years Mirren has supported Just Eat’s Christmas Meal Appeal – a partnershi­p with charities Social Bite and FoodCycle, which funds around 200,000 meals on Christmas Day and over the winter months for homeless and vulnerable people in the UK. With the effects of the pandemic on the education of the most vulnerable children remaining a serious issue, Mirren has also supported the World Literacy Foundation’s ‘UK Reads’ Christmas Appeal as Ambassador. She said, “Learning to read is such a fundamenta­l skill and sets children up to excel at school and in life, but illiteracy is a reality for many. I am proud to support UK Reads in its aim to bring the joy and power of reading to UK children and their families who don’t have any books at home. If you can, please consider giving a gift to their Christmas appeal.”

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