Funding received from the Building Connections Fund to help reduce or prevent loneliness

Following the Prime Minister’s endorsement of the Jo Cox Commission recommendations on Loneliness in January 2018, the Building Connections Fund has been set up to support projects that are able to prevent or reduce loneliness. This is part of Government’s wider package to tackle loneliness, including the first loneliness strategy for England and recommendations on standard measures of loneliness.

The Fund will provide grants to Prisoners Abroad and 125 other voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations working with different groups across the age range and across England over the next 2 years, beginning in January 2019.

Our project will increase social connections and relationships between individuals and communities by bringing together acutely isolated and lonely families with relatives imprisoned overseas via Family Support Groups, Family Days, an online network and a befriending service. These initiatives will provide safe, non-judgmental spaces for families to connect socially and develop a sense of community amongst families facing similar situations, who can relate to each other’s experiences.

Our family work is UK wide – last year we received 3,292 calls from families all over the country to our helpline and ran support groups and days in Bath, Birmingham, Glasgow, London, Manchester and York. Through this project we are extending these locations to Brighton, Colchester and Liverpool to support more people in those cities and the surrounding areas.

The shame and stigma around the imprisonment of a relative overseas frequently leaves people feeling unable to talk about their situation for fear of being judged, causing loneliness and reduced social interaction: “I remember the deep, dark feeling of dread in my stomach as the Australian police told me they had my son; the fear and anxiety I felt as I waited to find out what would happen to him and the shame that made me and my wife lock ourselves away for fear of being judged.”

Alan Hooker, our Family Support Coordinator said “So many of the family members that we are in contact find themselves experiencing extreme isolation and loneliness due to the imprisonment of their relatives thousands of miles from home.  We are delighted that we will now be able to reach more of our England based families helping them to feel less lonely and more socially connected.”


Notes to editors:

  1. For more information please contact Emily Richards, Marketing and Communications Manager, on [email protected].
  2. Prisoners Abroad’s Family Support Service currently provides support to friends and family members of British citizens imprisoned overseas in a range of ways. Our team of caseworkers provides families with one-to-one support, including via a Freephone helpline, answering questions, offering a listening ear, relieving fears and letting families know they are not alone.