Our primary purpose is to offer emotional support, to help prisoners combat loneliness!
Mission316 is committed to reaching out to all prisoners without prejudice. We recognise that the reasons people end up in prison are most times very complex, and many times associated with mental health issues.
Our letter writing programme helps prisoners to feel valued and supported while in custody.
Even though our prisons are chronically overcrowded, the rise in prison suicides is not surprising, as a prison cell can be a very lonely place. Many inmates just don’t have any family or outside support, especially for those who are serving long sentences.
Writing to someone outside the prison walls can help to break up the monotony of imprisonment.
Writing to and receiving letters from someone who isn’t judgmental, and who shares some of your interests, can provide important emotional support.
For some prisoners this regular human contact can be a real lifeline and game changer.
How to start your letter writing ministry
- Using this (TEMPLATE) print the letter to your local prison Chaplin.
- Using this (TEMPLATE) print two prisoner letters, enclose both prisoner letters in two stamped envelopes with your address.
- Post the above addressing it to “The Chaplin” at your nearest prison.
The purpose of sending two prisoner letters in two stamped addressed envelopes is; so the Chaplin can pass on the two letters, to two vulnerable prisoners.
- After receiving a letter from a prisoner, respond with a letter introducing yourself. Enclose two stamped addressed envelopes with your letter, also enclose a £5 note for the prisoner to buy toiletries.
- The purpose of sending the first stamped addressed envelope, is so your prisoner penfriend can reply to you. The purpose of the second stamped addressed envelope, is for your penfriend to give to another prisoner, who would also like support from a letter writing friend.
- When you have the same number of prisoners as letter writers in your group, write your address on one stamped envelope only. On the second stamped envelope write the address of another fellowship, that you think might like to receive an invitation to support and write to a vulnerable person in prison.
If you desire to launch Prison Letters in a country other than the UK, apply via our contact page, for a six month start up support package.
Rules & Boundaries!
Before writing to a prisoner, please understand that many prisoners are in prison because they are dangerous and or mentally ill. Also, the prisoner re-offending rate is over 30%. So for your own safety, please follow these simple rules to avoid being a crime statistic.
I AGREE TO be 100% non-judgemental in my communication.
I AGREE TO write one letter a month for a minimum of 6 six months.
I AGREE TO enclose two stamped addressed envelopes with each letter.
I AGREE TO enclose *£5 each time I write to a prisoner.
*The reason we have the £5 rule is twofold, firstly it helps to identify prisoners with little or no family support. Secondly your act of kindness will allow the prisoner can buy some toiletries.
DO NOT send photos of yourself.
DO NOT send a prisoner more than £5.
DO NOT ask what a prisoner’s conviction is.
DO NOT contact anyone on behalf of a prisoner.
DO NOT give out your phone number or email address.
DO NOT give out the names of your spouse or your children.
DO NOT use your real name, use a pen name or a pseudonym.
DO NOT give out your address (use your church or community address only).
DO NOT write to a prisoner of the opposite sex. Men write to men & women write to women.
You should always pen your letter in general terms. Be positive and focused, always encourage the prisoner with good news. Always attempt to get the prisoner to engage with you emotionally, about how they are feeling and what their hopes and dreams are for the future.
We have written a tract to encourage prisoners, you can download the tract here. (DOWNLOAD) Print the first of the A4 sheets of paper, return the printed sheet to your printer, then print the second A4 sheet on the reverse side of the paper, lastly fold the paper, to create an A6 size booklet.
Prisoners have a lot of time on their hands to scheme, plot and plan. Also, prisoners are notoriously well known for their skills in manipulation. If you suspect a prisoner is attempting to manipulate you, don’t delay ask a member of your group their opinion.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, “I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you comforted me.”