Our History

Prisoners Abroad was formed as the National Council for the Welfare of Prisoners Abroad in 1978 and registered as a charity on 24th April 1980.

We changed our name to simply Prisoners Abroad in 2002. Here are some key moments from our history.

History of Prisoners Abroad


National Council for the Welfare of Prisoners Abroad formed by Joe Parham, Craig Feehan and Chris Cheal. Initially based in a spare office of Release.


Incorporated as a charity for the first time.


First paid members of staff employed. Until this time all work was done entirely by volunteers.


Handshake logo used for the first time. This has undergone several transformations over the years, but remains a powerful symbol of the non-judgemental support we offer to those who are held behind bars.


First issue of our Newsletter was produced. Written by and for prisoners, it is often their only outlet for Britons held overseas to tell their story. It is also an outlet for their creative talents, publishing poetry and pictures in every issue.


Medical fund set up. This vital fund pays for emergency health treatment needed by Brits held overseas. Since 1991 it has helped hundreds of people, providing treatment for serious conditions such as cancer, diabetes and HIV / AIDS.


Vitamin Fund launched. This fund provides essential vitamins to Britons held in those countries where prison authorities provide insufficient nutritional food to survive.


Thanks to a grant from the National Lottery, we set up our Resettlement Service, to help Britons returning to the UK after a period of imprisonment overseas. Initially called Aftercare, this service today helps hundreds of people every year to avoid homelessness and start the process of re-training, finding work, and leading a new life free of crime.


Family freephone number launched. For the first time, relatives and friends can get support free of charge. Today, we receive thousands of calls from people needing someone to talk to, who won’t judge their loved one, and who can provide practical advice and expertise. If you would like to speak tosomeone, call 0808 172 0098 now. (Lines open 9:30-5pm Monday Friday).


Prisoners Abroad received a commendation from the Metropolitan Police for “diligence and commitment to the resettlement and successful integration of offenders, and enhancing public safety throughout London and beyond”. This is recognition of the often unsung work we do with those coming out of prison, to help keep Londoners safe.


Prisoners Abroad wins the Longford Prize. The judges praised our “determination, humanity and courage in the face of public indifference and hostility”.

2009 and beyond:

Prisoners Abroad continues to provide support to some of the most vulnerable and forgotten people.