On Friday, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry made a surprise visit to One25, a charity that helps homeless sex workers struggling with addiction build new lives in Bristol. While there, Markle helped pack care packages with warm clothing, hot water bottles, condoms, and lunches for women living on the streets. Markle also added a special touch: banana messages.
"I saw this project this woman had started somewhere in the States on a school lunch programme," Markle said, according to DailyMail correspondent Rebecca English. "On each of the bananas she wrote an affirmation, to make the kids feel really, like, empowered. It was the most incredible idea — this small gesture."
So, Markle got right to work, and wrote phrases on the bananas that were going into the care packages, like, "You are strong," "You are loved," "You are brave," and "You are special." "I'm in charge of the banana messaging," she said in a video tweeted by Kensington Palace.
Not only is Markle creative, but this gesture is also an example of her compassion. An estimated 60,000 to 80,000 sex workers live in the United Kingdom, and 80% are women, according to a 2018 study. Sex workers all around the world face discrimination when they seek housing or other employment. On top of that, the stigma can have a negative impact on sex workers' mental health. Many vulnerable people are forced into sex work, or are also survivors of domestic violence, which makes it incredibly difficult to find safe, secure housing. And often because of the nature of sex work, those sex workers who are homeless are often not counted in official statistics, so they are unable to access the proper resources to seek shelter.
Organisations like One25, which provide non-judgmental safe havens for sex workers, are key to ending the cycle of homelessness and poverty. "The women we support are often hidden from society, and this visit shines a light on the enormous challenges they face and the incredible strength they have," One25 CEO Anna Smith told reporters during the visit.