A lot of our work is responding to the immediate crises and need of those in prison overseas; the need for a survival grant so that someone can buy clean water, supplement meagre food rations in developing countries or buy a blanket to keep them warm; or requests for medical funds so that someone can access critical and life-saving medicine which means they can stay healthy and safe. This is in contrast to the work we do offering longer term support so that people can maintain their mental wellbeing, helping them to deal with the stigma they face and to reduce the isolation they feel due to their circumstances. These things can take a huge toll on an individual whether it's the detainee, the friend, the parent or the spouse. 


Regions and countries

We have seen continued high numbers of prisoners in Europe, North America and Australasia, and a decrease in the number of people we are supporting in Africa, the Caribbean, South and Central America and in the Middle East. Prisoner numbers in Asia went up by 9% last year. There is a continuing increase in people overstaying their visas in Thailand, as well as a notable number of new cases in Cambodia, China, Japan and the Philippines. 

Overseas Survival Grant

In many parts of the world, prison systems do not provide adequate food or other basic necessities. Prisoners Abroad sends Survival Grants to Britons detained overseas with dangerously inadequate access to food, clean water and medicine, so they can buy what they need to survive. Last year Prisoners Abroad sent Survival Grants to 359 people in 45 countries with total payments reaching £88,955. 


Preventing destitution and street homelessness among British citizens returning
from overseas and giving them a second chance to rebuild their lives.

352  ex-prisoners were helped by the Resettlement Service last year. 

Time out of the UK 

A trend we are seeing in Resettlement is more new returnees who have lived outside of the UK for longer periods of time. This has been influenced by the increase in deportees from Australia and the continued high numbers from the USA, both countries having high numbers of British residents.

The chart to the right shows that, in 2015, people who had been out of the UK for longer than 20 years accounted for 32% of new returnees. In 2018, this increased to 54%, more than half of all new returnees.

I really don’t know how we all would have been able to cope without the support, kindness and patience of this amazing charity.

- Mother of a prisoner in Spain

Family Needs Assessment Feedback

Last year we received 59 needs assessment forms from new family/friends telling us about the kinds of issues they were facing as a result of their relative’s imprisonment. What was noticeable from previous years was the increase in people telling us how much their life had been affected in different ways. This may indicate that families are more willing to talk openly about their issues with Prisoners Abroad, but the responses still evidence a clear need for support and advice.

I have only my weekly pension and some DLA, so am finding it exceedingly difficult to manage to live. I had to give back my mobility car as I can no longer afford it. I am struggling.

Father of a prisoner in France

I have been sending money for legal representation and my son’s upkeep. This has left me with no savings at all and I would like to visit him but currently can't afford it.

Mother of a prisoner in the UAE

My health has not been good. I have lost weight and don’t feel like eating much. My blood pressure is exceptionally higher and I hardly sleep.

Mother of a prisoner in Thailand

My health was already affected by my son’s behaviour. This being in prison abroad has not helped. I am taking anti-depression tablets.

Mother of a prisoner in France

A few people have cut me off or distanced themselves from me and treat me differently. I’m grateful it’s only the few. My family have been angry with me for supporting him. It’s very isolating.

Relative of a prisoner in Australia

Family is hard, most don't understand how we feel and my husband finds it very hard to talk about the situation. He is so ashamed of our son.

Mother of a prisoner in France

Family Service Evaluation Feedback

The following feedback is taken from 30 post-service evaluation questionnaires returned by families in FY2017-18.

I cannot say enough about your services. You not only are helping my husband but you helped us as a family. Our family did not know the first thing about how anyone could help us in our situation, as we had lost everything. I thank you from the bottom of my heart as my husband is being helped by lovely people who actually care.

Wife of a prisoner in Australia

I really don’t know how we all would have been able to cope without the support, kindness and patience of this amazing charity.

Mother of a prisoner in Spain

Grants that save lives

Prison conditions can be brutal, inhumane, unhygienic and dangerous; placing prisoners at risk. In countries such as Thailand, access to food and drinking water is severely restricted. This is especially harsh for British prisoners who do not have family locally to bring food or money to buy water to the prison for them. Occasionally, British prisoners die in custody overseas; tragically last year there were four. To mitigate the risks of illness and even death, Prisoners Abroad continues to provide life-saving grants for vitamins and medical assistance, in addition to grants to buy drinking water and nutritious food.


Over the last six months, we have seen an average of 71 new family members per month signing up to our services. Over the year, we support more than 2,000 loved ones of which 46% of these were new cases.

Family support events

We run family days and support groups throughout the year, across the country, which offer a safe, non-judgmental place for family members and friends to talk about their experience. In the last six months we have held Family Days in London, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham. These were attended by 53 relatives or friends. We also hosted twelve peer-to-peer Family Support Group meetings in Manchester, Birmingham, Bath, York, and London over the last six months. These were attended by 71 relatives or friends.

Casework and family online support

21%of the family and friends we currently support do not live in the UK, but typically in countries such as the USA and Australia where their loved one faces deportation to the UK after release. Despite being overseas, they can still call our Casework team and also access our confidential Online Family Network. This is a members only social network where people affected by overseas imprisonment can discuss and share their knowledge and experience with each other, creating an online community of mutual respect and support.


We have seen an average of 12 new ex-prisoners per month seeking our support upon return; out of the 300 people who used our Resettlement service last year, 149 were new returnees.

Emergency accommodation

Many people arrive with no contacts or support networks in the UK. Their first, immediate need is often a roof over their heads. Due to the chronic shortage of affordable housing in London, our Resettlement service users spend weeks in emergency accommodation. The cost of temporary emergency accommodation for Prisoners Abroad has more than doubled over the past four years and accounts for over 30% of our Resettlement costs, with deposits for more permanent accommodation accounting for a further 21%. We know that providing safe accommodation is the first important step to helping people to rebuild their lives.

Helping vulnerable people

The reality of arriving in a new country and having to integrate into a society you are unfamiliar with is extremely challenging. This is even more challenging for the 50% of people who return with physical health issues and 33% who return with mental health problems. Your support enables us to help people through the complex process of accessing physical and mental healthcare and social services.

Would you like to help support people on their return to the UK?

Yes, I'd like to help