Mary Ann is our newest trustee, having joined the board in September 2023. As someone with the lived experience of a loved one in prison overseas, her insight is particularly valuable. Mary Ann has written an account of how this, along with her long-standing work in the charity sector, has enabled her to bring a new perspective to our board in her first six months as trustee. 

I was super grateful for the existence of Prisoners Abroad myself when someone close to me was arrested abroad. They helped me to get the information I needed to make contact and deal with some pressing issues.

Without Prisoners Abroad, I have no idea how I would have coped with the practicalities and the shock of that time. It is invaluable to friends and family members of people who are arrested abroad to know there is somewhere where they can turn, somewhere where you won’t be judged and where you can talk honestly about what is happening as the situation you find yourself in is something most of us don’t find it easy to talk about day to day. 

That is why when I heard that Prisoners Abroad were looking for new trustees, and particularly welcoming people with direct experience, I was really excited to put myself forward to join the board.

Their non-judgemental support role is critical. We would all want the right to that kind of support if it happened to us, and it is what makes this work especially valuable. As well as making a massive difference for those personally imprisoned abroad, Prisoners Abroad provides a bridge between the family and all kinds of information and support that is essential. The resettlement team also makes a massive difference to those who return from a sentence overseas when they arrive in the UK with little or no support. 

I have worked for almost 25 years in the charity sector myself, and so I'm delighted to be able to bring my skills and experience to support the trustee board and the work of Prisoners Abroad at a strategic level. This, along with my experience of benefitting from the charity’s support in the past, hopefully gives me useful skills, insight and experience to contribute to this valuable work. 

I am currently co-CEO at ADD International, an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) working on disability justice, and over the years I have worked with a whole range of organisations, mostly those working internationally, on social change and justice. I have also previously been a trustee of two charities working in the UK, one working on migration and the other on domestic violence.

In particular, I am pleased to bring my skills and experience in leading change, fundraising and embracing diversity to support the vital work of Prisoners Abroad.

Being offered a lifeline can change everything. 

Prisoners Abroad translates human rights law into practical life-saving actions by providing prisoners access to vitamins and essential food, emergency medical care, freepost envelopes to keep in touch with home and books and magazines to help sustain mental health.

Can you help to support our life-saving work by donating today?