Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pictured volunteering with ex-gang members

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have lent a hand at a bakery and cafe which works with former gang members and ex-prisoners in Los Angeles.

The couple spent time on Tuesday with the team at Homeboy Industries, which gives training and support to men and women who used to be involved with gangs in the Californian city.

Meghan, 38, first met the charity’s founder, Father Greg Boyle, 20 years ago when she and her mother Doria Ragland attended a cooking workshop with him.

The royals were pictured wearing gloves, aprons and masks as they worked alongside the bakery and cafe teams in the kitchens on Tuesday.

They could also be seen packing lunch box meals and turning their hands to pastries.

The duchess helped pack meal boxes. (Duke and Duchess of Sussex)
The duchess helped pack meal boxes. (Duke and Duchess of Sussex)

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Harry and Meghan are said to have been speaking with Father Boyle, who has previously worked closely with Meghan’s former high school Immaculate Heart, about the racial justice movement.

A source told Harper’s Bazaar that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex “connect deeply” with the mission of Homeboy Industries and see it as “a perfect example of how empathy, kindness, and compassion can change the world”.

Harry and Meghan volunteered with Homeboy Industries in LA. (Duke and Duchess of Sussex)
Harry and Meghan volunteered with Homeboy Industries in LA. (Duke and Duchess of Sussex)

Father Boyle said: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were just ‘Harry and Meghan’ to the homies. They rolled up their sleeves and deeply engaged with our workers in the bakery and café. It was immediate kinship and heartening in its mutuality.”

Mariana Enriquez, the manager of Homegirl Café said: “It was remarkable to share our Feed Hope program with Harry and Meghan today. They are both down to earth and kind.

“The staff was honoured they took the time to see us, hear us and walk on our journey today. We will never forget it.”

“With their visit, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex saw the dignity and power that comes from having a job,” said Homeboy Industries’ chief executive Thomas Vozzo.

“At Homeboy, through our social enterprise businesses, people can continue to heal and they work, learning skills and changing their lives, changing their families and changing communities.”

Harry and Meghan tried their hands at croissants. (Duke and Duchess of Sussex)
Harry and Meghan tried their hands at croissants. (Duke and Duchess of Sussex)

Homeboy Industries shared three photos and wrote: “THANK YOU to Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, for their visit yesterday! Our Bakery & Café teams were thrilled to have them work alongside us to #FeedHOPE to Los Angeles.”

Replying to someone who said they would donate to the charity after seeing the prince and his wife there, Homeboy Industries wrote: “We are grateful for the Sussex Squad!”

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On Instagram, they added: “Our staff was thrilled to work alongside them as they helped prepare food and learned more about our newly launched #FeedHOPE program, which employs our program participants to provide meals to food-insecure seniors and youth across Los Angeles in the wake of the #COVID19 pandemic.”

Homeboy Industries has been running for more than 30 years and has several cafes through the city, some of which they have turned into emergency food preparation centres to provide meals for those who may not be able to afford it themselves.

They also have an emergency depot for prisoners who are being released during the pandemic, where they can get food, clothing and other essentials.

And the charity’s work including mental health support, legal services and classes, have been continued online.

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It’s not the first time the royal couple has been seen lending a hand to volunteer organisations in LA, where they are settling after moving from Canada at the end of March.

But they have been keeping a lower profile in recent weeks, and are said to have been talking with community leaders in the wake of the death of George Floyd to see how they can help.

They are preparing to launch a non-profit organisation called Archewell, but that is likely to be delayed until 2021.