What is Building Futures?

It is a five year project funded by the National Lottery Community Fund to explore the experiences of people who will spend 10 or more years in custody.

Find out more about the project below, or by downloading a copy of our programme leaflet by clicking here.


What is its aim?

To make a positive difference to the lives of very long-sentenced prisoners, their families and the wider community.


The issue

In the last twenty years, the prison population has changed hugely.

  • Sentences for more serious crimes have become longer.
  • At least 11% of the prison population is now serving some type of indeterminate sentence.
  • Far more people will now spend 10 or more years in prison.
  • The average tariff length for murder has increased from 12.5 years in 2003 to 21.1 years in 2013.
  • Meeting the challenges of this change will shape the prison landscape for the forseeable future.

The impact

  • People both in prison and on the out may struggle to see a future and maintain hope.
  • The wellbeing of all the people who live and work in prison suffers.
  • When release does finally come around, making a success of it is harder.

Who will achieve this?

Long-term prisoners will set the priorities. It is crucial that the programme is built by people it represents. So we will:

  • Facilitate listening forums.
  • Create inter-prisoner support networks.
  • Promote prisoner leadership.
  • Bridge the gap between the people who make policy and the people affected by it.


Our outcomes

  • Understanding levels of harm and disorder amongst the long-term prisoner population.
  • Finding ways to improve personal fulfilment and hope among the long-term population.
  • Identifying and seeking to remove barriers to achieving parole at the earliest opportunity.
  • Establishing a long-term strategy for the treatment of long-term prisoners.

How to get involved

Working with our Prisoner Policy Network, we are putting together a network of prisoners serving long sentences who will be involved in consultations, research and advocacy work.

Our network members will be key contributors to the project. If you are serving 10+ years and would like to be part of our Building Futures Network then please get in touch.


Building Futures c/o
Prison Reform Trust FREEPOST ND 6125
London EC1B 1PN


If you have access to email a prisoner, you can contact us at