Penfriend options for people in prison

This is for information only.  We are unable to provide advice on this.  For reasons why, click here.


There are many people in prison who have do not have close family relationships, and therefore do not receive any visits or letters. Below you will find a couple of organisations/services that may be able to help if you are looking for somebody to be in contact with.

Prison rules on communicating with former prisoners

We’ve have received enquiries from people who want a penfriend who has been to prison, and from former prisoners who wish to penfriend people currently inside.

The information below is taking from PS1 49/2011

Inter-prison and ex-prisoner mail

2.24 Correspondence between convicted prisoners requires the approval of the Governors of both the prisons concerned, except where the prisoners are close relatives (as defined above) or where they were co-defendants at their trial and the correspondence relates to their conviction or sentence. Subject to the provisions above, approval should be given unless there are reasons to believe that such correspondence will seriously impede the rehabilitation of either prisoner, or where it would be desirable, in the interests of security or good order and discipline, that the prisoners should be prevented from communicating. Accordingly, if the Governor of the sending establishment has no objections, the letter should be sent to the Governor of the recipient’s establishment with a covering note inviting them to consider whether it should be issued.

2.25 Correspondence with ex-prisoners should be allowed, subject to any concerns there may be regarding threats to security (see below) and, if the ex-prisoner is under supervision in the community, to the views of his/her supervising offender manager, unless the Governor believes that it would seriously impede the rehabilitation of either.


Prisoners’ Penfriends makes it possible for volunteers to write safely to prisoners, giving friendship, hope – and a reminder of the outside world.

New Bridge Foundation Befriending Service aims to support vulnerable people in prison and secure hospitals, by establishing and maintaining contact through letter writing and visiting.

Bent Bars Project is a letter-writing project for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, gender-variant and intersex prisoners in Britain. The project aims to develop stronger connections and build solidarity between LGBTQ communities outside and inside prison walls.

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