Prisoners Abroad is a UK-based charity working to support British citizens imprisoned overseas, to assist those affected by imprisonment, and to help ex-prisoners start a new life free of crime after their release.
We aim to lessen the isolation and deprivation experienced by both prisoners abroad and their families in the UK, and prevent hardship amongst Britons returning from abroad. We make no moral judgement about the people we work with; all our services are free and confidential and we help convicted and unconvicted, guilty or innocent, solely on the basis of need.
HELP FOR BRITISH PRISONERS OVERSEAS - Being arrested and held in prison abroad can be a confusing and lonely experience. Prisoners Abroad helps British prisoners wherever they are in the world, and whatever they have been charged with.
We provide a professional and confidential service and will try to help with any questions prisoners may have. We can address concerns about welfare and safety, and raise them with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). Where possible we can also talk to the prison authorities, lawyers, the British Embassy, or any other relevant authority or organisation.
If you are detained in a developing country, we can send funds to help pay for essential items such as food, clothing, bedding, and in some countries multi-vitamins. We also have an emergency medical fund which can make a contribution towards any essential medication or treatment which is not provided by the prison.
We send a newsletter three times a year to everyone that we are in contact with which contains useful information and articles written by staff, prisoners and other organisations. We send newspapers and books to British prisoners and prison libraries all over the world. You also offer the opportunity to correspond with our volunteer pen pals, and we provide international freepost envelopes to write to us from any country, or to forward mail to family and friends.
HELP FOR THE FAMILIES OF PRISONERS - Overseas imprisonment of a loved on raises a lot of questions. Talking to friends or family may be difficult – other people may not understand the range of emotions imprisonment can bring up. Prisoners Abroad offers a friendly and confidential service to listen and, where possible, help and guide through concerns.
Where available we can give information about the prison system in the country where the relative is detained, and we have general leaflets covering subjects such as human rights and transferring back to a British prison. Where appropriate we can respond to other specific requests for information. Our caseworkers speak French and Spanish so we can offer practical help booking visits or speaking to prison social workers.
Often, the only people who can truly understand what family members are going through are people who have been through the same themselves. Just knowing that they're not the only one in this situation is often a relief and may help feel less alone. We put family members of prisoners in touch with each other by telephone and on our online family network. We hold regular Family Days and Support Groups, which offer a chance to meet other people in a similar situation and talk through the kind of problems being faced. These events take place in different parts of the UK. Family Days also offer talks on themes ranging from particular countries to issues such as what happens when relatives are released.
HELP FOR EX-PRISONERS COMING TO THE UK - For some people, the end of a prison sentence is a cause for great concern. The routine of prison life is often replaced with the uncertainties of life on the outside. Prisoners Abroad can help with finding somewhere to live, offer guidance through the benefits system, and provide practical advice about the issues faced.
The service we provide includes:
• Advice and assistance with finding emergency accommodation
• Advice and assistance through the process of claiming welfare benefits, as well as liaison with the Benefit Agency if problems arise with a claim
• Emergency grants for those with no other source of help
• Referrals to appropriate agencies offering specialist help
• Temporary luggage storage
• The chance to talk through experiences with one of our team and to meet others in the same position.