Liz’s father was in prison in the UK before being moved to a prison in France to serve a sentence for an earlier crime.

The differences in the French and UK prison systems were enormous. Things felt much less organised (from both our side and his) and sending items, letters, phone calls cost a lot more than they had. Fortunately my Dad is the kind of person who copes remarkably well in these situations, he adapts and makes the best of things. Had this not been the case I would have been incredibly worried about his welfare; friendships with other prisoners are a huge part of survival (emotionally) for most prisoners, which was very difficult without communication.

I feel lucky that we had Prisoners Abroad.

The legal systems are also of course very different and everything needed to be translated into French. Prisoners Abroad was able to do this for us which was really helpful. They also made calls regarding visits, Christmas boxes (which are allowed in France, but come with a hundred rules!) and so many other things.

In June my Dad’s sentence in France finally ended and he came home. It’s amazing to have him back and not worry about whether he has everything he needs or what we could be doing to help. I don’t think he would have coped as well if he hadn’t had access to books. I feel lucky that we had support from Prisoners Abroad; the main issues are the language barrier and the differences between the judicial systems. I would say don’t look for logic in decisions that are made by the prison or judicial system, learn to accept what you cannot change and focus on coping with the outcome. Don’t give up hope either, try to keep a positive attitude when talking to them; it makes it easier if they know you are doing OK.

Combating stigma helps reduce isolation.

Prisoners Abroad helps family members affected by a loved one’s imprisonment by providing one to one support as well as hosting family support groups around the country and arranging overseas visits.