Penfriend letter writing

We make it possible for volunteers to write safely to prisoners, giving friendship, hope and a reminder of the outside world to people at all stages of their sentence. Our Prisoners’ Penfriends scheme supports the wellbeing of prisoners by encouraging safe, non-judgemental connection and friendship via letters and emails from volunteers across the UK.
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What we do

We serve around 200 prisoners in the UK and process approximately 3,700 letters a year. Our scheme is available in around 90 prisons across England and Wales. 

With prison sentences getting longer, many people lose links with family and friends and find themselves disconnected from the outside world. They may lose hope for the future, and experience feelings of isolation and loneliness. These letters provide a useful and positive activity, alongside friendship, connection, and a place to express themselves.

How it works

Prisoners’ Penfriends is unique in that every correspondence is carefully supervised and every letter is checked, ensuring that everyone is protected from harm. Volunteers receive training, and we have safeguarding agreements in place with HMPPS.

People in prison wishing to join the scheme can write to our PO Box. They are sent an application form, where they can describe their interests. They are then matched with a volunteer. The volunteer doesn’t share their address, all correspondence comes through our office.

“[The] letters have helped me through some dark days. Knowing there are forgiving and understanding people out there… gives me hope and faith for the future. I can’t tell you how much any tiny bit of hope is worth”

Prisoner Penfriend

Why we do it

Our work is a lifeline for people feeling lonely in prison, offering a vital connection to the outside world at what is often their lowest point. The scheme improves self-identity, as well as hope for life beyond prison. A study by Warwick School of Law found: “The scheme is likely to raise prisoners’ chances of rehabilitation, through connecting them with the outside (non-criminal) world, through providing someone who accepts them as more than just ‘an offender’ and shows belief in their capacity for change.”

Volunteer to be a penfriend

Set up the scheme in your prison

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A man is leaning on a fence and is smiling

Together we can create a future where everyone can achieve their potential within and beyond prison. Can you help?