By Eliza

When Eliza’s son was arrested in France, Prisoners Abroad was there to provide practical and emotional support. 25 years on, Eliza has made the wonderful decision to remember Prisoners Abroad in her will. This is her story.

“Your son has been arrested and is being held in prison abroad”. This is the most devastating news any mother can receive; being told that my much-adored son was in prison in France. My mind was sent into a whirl: what happened? Where exactly is he? How can I visit? What can I do? 

It has been over 25 years since I was told my son had been arrested but I still often think about that day and the panic I felt. 

Strangely I cannot remember how I ended up being put in contact with Prisoners Abroad, but it changed everything. The way they took care of my son and me, and the wonderful support they give to hundreds of other prisoners around the world meant that, for me, leaving a gift in my Will felt like an obvious choice. 

From the moment I was put in touch with Prisoners Abroad there was always someone at the end of a phone to help me, to advise me, and to listen to me.  The caseworkers who answered my calls were a big part of what got me through this tough stage of my life – I cannot thank Prisoners Abroad enough. 

I was particularly grateful for the help Prisoners Abroad gave me as my son got closer and closer to his trial. My son had been on remand for 18 months in a very old and very dilapidated prison. It was a stressful time for both of us, but it would have been so much worse if Prisoners Abroad had not been helping me with everything that needed to be translated from French.

French-speaking caseworkers made all the arrangements for me to visit my son, they translated important letters and they even helped me to find a French lawyer.  I would have been so lost without their help!

In hindsight we consider ourselves fortunate in quite a few ways. When he had finally been transferred after his trial my son served a relatively short sentence in a newly built French prison where he was allowed to work. I was living in Portsmouth so it was also pretty straightforward for me to get a ferry to the north of France, where my son was being held.

This all happened a long time ago and my son now has a very successful business, but we have never forgotten the kindness and the help given by Prisoners Abroad.  We both make monthly donations and try to keep up with the work Prisoners Abroad does, especially in places like South America and Asia, where prisoners are having a truly terrible time. 

I often think how grateful I am that my son was in France. He never had to buy emergency food, or bottled water; he didn’t have to fight or pay for bed space and he didn’t need to rely on vitamins to avoid falling unwell. 

Prisoners Abroad is not a ‘cuddly’ charity and I imagine raising money for prisoners can be difficult. I think that makes it more important that those who do see the enormous value of their work consider leaving a gift in their Will.

A lasting legacy.

Leaving a gift in your Will is one of the most powerful ways you can support Prisoners Abroad.

Read more about leaving a legacy here.