People who can help you in prison

You can talk to prison staff about any problems you have while you are in prison.


But there are other people who can help you too. Prison staff should tell you who else can help you. There should also be information about this on your prison wing.


Here is a list of other people who can help you in prison.

If you feel upset or worried or would like to talk to someone, you can speak to:

  • A chaplain or someone else to do with religion.
  • The Samaritans. The Samaritans helpline is available 24 hours a day. When you call the Samaritans, a volunteer will listen to you and help you talk through your worries, whatever they may be. You can call the Samaritans for free, on 0845 450 7797 from prisons in England and Wales, or 08457 90 90 90 from prisons in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Some prisons hand out Samaritans phones which are specially for calling Samaritans. You can also write to the Samaritans and you will receive a written reply;



PO Box 9090


  • Another prisoner called a listener. Listeners are prisoners who are trained to listen and support you if you feel very upset or worried. They will not tell prison staff what you said unless they are worried you will harm yourself or someone else.
  • Some prisons have prisoners called buddies. They are there to listen to you if you need someone to talk to. Buddies may tell prison staff things you have said if they need to.
  • Prison staff from a team called Safer Custody, who check to make sure people feel safe in the prison.
  • Official prison visitors. These are local people who can visit prisoners who may not have many people to visit them or who may just want to speak to someone else outside the prison. Speak to someone called an official prison visit liaison officer to ask for one of these people to visit you.

If you feel unsafe

If you feel unsafe, for example if someone is hurting you or being violent to you, speak to any member of prison staff straight away. They will be able to help you.


You can ask to speak to a member of the Safer Custody team. Safer custody staff check to make sure people feel safe in the prison.

Help with healthcare

If you have a problem with your health ask to see a member of healthcare. You can request to see someone through a general application or you could ask an officer to help you request an appointment.

Help with resettlement needs

There should be resettlement services available at the prison to help with housing, finding employment, debt advice or setting up benefits. You can ask staff of put in an application if you need to see someone from these services.


Resettlement services may be provided by a Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC). This is a private company that runs some resettlement and probation services and may have paid other providers such as charities

Job Centre Plus advisers should be available in the prison to give benefits advice and help you set up benefits claims for your release.

Education staff

Staff from the education department can tell you what courses are available for you. Put in an application if you would like to speak to someone from education or start a course.

Help with other things

Other organisations help prisoners as well. For example,

  • The Citizen’s Advice Bureau gives help with things like money and the law.
  •  Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous gives help to do with drug or alcohol problems.
  • The New Bridge Foundation is an organisation that helps prisoners by coming to visit people in prison and helping them get ready for life after prison. Ask prison staff if you would like a volunteer to come to your prison. Or you can contact the New Bridge Foundation at:

The New Bridge Foundation

27a Medway Street



Telephone 0207 976 0779


Ask prison staff what other help you can get at your prison.

Who to speak to about problems in prison
  • The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) checks prisons to make sure they are run in a good and fair way. They do not work for the prison. They are people from the local area who are volunteers.

If you have a complaint to do with prison life you can ask to see someone from the Independent Monitoring Board when they are next in prison. You will have to fill in a special form to do this. The form and a leaflet about the Independent Monitoring Board should be on your prison wing. 

  • You can write to someone called the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) if you have already tried to solve your complaint with prison staff and you are still not happy.

The ombudsman does not work for the prison. Their job is to look at complaints

from prisoners about their management, supervision, care and treatment


Write to the ombudsman at:

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman

PO Box 70769




Or phone on:

020 7633 4100 or 0845 010 7938

Further information

The following may be of interest to you.


Useful PSIs and PSOs (these should be available in the library):

PSI 02/2012 Prisoner Complaints

PSI 58/2010 The Prisons & Probation Ombudsman.



Prison Reform Trust information sheet on ‘Making a complaint in prison

For a print-ready version of this information, click here.