A good relationship with family during their incarceration can make a big difference for prisoners after their release. Recidivism is much lower among those with a strong support network; studies show that prisoners receiving visitors are 39% less likely to reoffend than those with no family contact.

However, for prisoners who are detained far away from their loved ones, regular visits can require too much time and money, especially over long sentences. With less contact, relationships can break down, and prisoners may be left isolated and alone when it’s time for their release.

Thanks to the internet, most of us no longer have to travel long distances to see our loved ones face-to-face. A new government report suggests that this should be the case in UK prisons too, and that some prisoners should be allowed Skype calls home, as this recent article reports.

The Farmer Review recommends that for prisoners whose family are unable to visit them regularly, such as foreign nationals or those with babies or young children, virtual visits would help keep relatives in contact during incarceration. Relatives should be allowed to call prisons from within their own homes without charge, and should be given assistance with the technology if necessary.

The report also makes the point that access to technology in prison is especially important for those with long sentences, who may otherwise “become stuck in a technological dark age which will ill-equip them for life on the outside”.

Prisoners Abroad believes that contact with home is crucial for prisoners’ psychological well-being and reducing isolation, especially for those in foreign prisons far away from home, where there may be no other English speakers around. We provide prisoners with freepost envelopes and phone cards so they can stay in touch with loved ones, and send birthday and Christmas cards so even those with nobody else know they are not alone. We also help families to organise personal prison visits, to countries as far away as Peru, Thailand, India and Indonesia.

Having contact with family members can make a world of difference. As one prisoner said:

“I would like to say thank you for the support that Prisoners Abroad has given my parents in helping them traveling to the US. I got to spend give hours each day for five straight day’s with them. Giving and receiving a hug by my mum and dad was the highlight of my year. Getting to sit down face-to-face with no glass partition separating us and holding hands was amazing, for a couple of days I got to feel like a human being.”

We can only support prisoners and their families in this way thanks to your generosity. If you would like to help families stay together through the ordeal of separation, please donate today and give hope to thousands.