Our Impact

Receiving letters makes a huge difference to a prisoners day

Recently, the public has become more aware of what is going on in prisons, where, because of shortage of money and staff, inmates are often locked up for 23 hours a day, for as much as four days per week. But, even when this happens, they still get their letters – and it makes a huge difference to their day.
University of Warwick study
The University of Warwick has studied our scheme and found that it has an important role to play in helping to rehabilitate convicted offenders. The researchers found overwhelming support among prisoners for the scheme, with the primary concerns being the challenge of expanding due to funding constraints and advertising restrictions. The study adds:

Prisoners write in emotional terms about the benefits they receive through their relationship with their penfriends, namely:  

  • positive changes to self-identity
  • distraction, interest and self-expression
  • happiness
  • raised hopes for life beyond prison.

“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.”

From Imagining More than Just a Prisoner: the work of Prisoners’ Penfriends, University of Warwick, 2015.
Read the report
Volunteers say:
“It has been good to make a human connection with someone in such a difficult place, and to feel I might be able to keep his outlook at least a little bit positive. I hope someone would do the same for me if I found myself in a similar position. […] J. has been able to write with pride about his children, which has been very touching […] I certainly feel the  experience has been very worthwhile for both of us.”
Volunteers say:
“I enjoyed writing to R. and reading his letters, particularly as their tone has changed over the months. His most recent letter seems to show interest in and concern for me.”
Volunteers say:
“Being his penfriend – and I very much hope to continue writing to him after his release – has meant the opportunity in a small way to help him, and contribute to, his continued recovery.”
Prisoners say:
“It’s been good to write to someone to say how you feel and that they will write back. It's nice to have another person to write to.”
Prisoners say:
“It’s huge to have someone else apart from family to write to, also to talk about other things instead of the mess one finds themselves in.”
Prisoners say:
“[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.”
Prisoners say:
“H. has become a good friend. […] Having a penfriend has been a big help to me in many ways as with depression and bipolar and more disorder can be hard without being in prison, so just having a letter can help in many ways and I’m so happy that I got a penfriend!”
Prisoners say:
“I haven’t written to family since 2013. It’s been to find out what’s been going on outside of prison, and having somebody to talk to”
Prisoners say:
“She has supported me through a lot and has been nice to have someone to write to.”
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