Having a loved one in prison can be difficult, worrying and even frightening. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed. This page guides you towards services that can help you through this difficult time. We have divided the page into problems commonly faced by families.

One to One Advice Slots in Hastings and Rother

Various venues

For more information or to make an appointment call Rachelle 07795388341

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If you would like to talk through any of these issues you can call our First Stop Advice Line on 01273 499843 for information about local support. Fridays from 10-4

At other times please call Prisoners’ Families and Friends Service on 0808 808 3444 or the Offenders’ Families Helpline on 0808 808 2003.


(Click on one to jump to information.)


Many families don’t know whether they should tell children that a friend or relative has gone to prison. These resources and organisations will be able to help. They can also help children cope with having a family member in prison.

Telling the Children, Action for Prisoners’ Families A booklet that helps families talk to children about the imprisonment of a loved one.

Tommy’s Dad A children’s picture book which explores what happens when child’s dad is sent to prison.

Children’s Centres If you have children who are five and under your local children’s centre may be able to give you advice and support in communicating with your children.

Family Lives Helpline and website for anyone caring for children. Tel: 0808 800 2222

Home-Start East Sussex If you have a least one child under five, and are finding things hard to manage, you could ask Home-Start for help. Home-Start volunteers can visit you in your own home. They are all parents like yourself, and have special training before being matched with a family. Their support is free and confidential.

Schools Schools should be able to support your child through this difficult time. A teacher, learning assistant or learning mentor that your child trusts will be able to listen to your child and should be able to keep your information confidential.

C360 This site points young people in East Sussex towards advice on work, education, money and health.


Visiting a prison can be a bewildering process. Gather as much information as you can beforehand to make your visit easier. Most male prisoners in Sussex will be sent to HMP Lewes and most women will be sent to HMP Bronzefield though this not always the case.

HMP Lewes Information about visiting.  Visiting times at HMP Lewes will be from 2-4 every day except Friday when they will be from 9:30-11.

HMP Bronzefield Booking lines are now closed and visits, including reception visits, must be booked via the prisoner.

Other Prisons Information about all prisons can be found on the Ministry of Justice Website.

Visitors’ Centres Many prisons around the country have visitors’ centres where you can wait and get useful information and support. It is worth phoning ahead to visitors’ centres to find out what to expect on a visit. Some will produce their own literature. You can find out more information on the Inside Information website. Or from the Ministry of Justice website.

Prisoner Location Service If you are not sure which prison your loved one has been sent to you can contact the Prisoner Location Service. PO Box 2152, Birmingham, B15 1SD Fax: 0121 626 3474. Email link here

My visit This booklet allows children to prepare for and think about visiting prison.

Sent to prison A booklet which explains some of the issues and concerns around visiting a prison.

Email a Prisoner This service allows families to indirectly email prisoners at some prisons.


Coping with the loss of a family member can be traumatic and you may have to adapt to being a ‘lone’ parent. These organisations may be able to help.

Living with Separation Booklet from Action for Prisoners’ Families. Free for families. Tel: 0208 812 3600

Affect A support group for family members affected by serious crime. Tel: 01329 832254

Prisoners’ Friends and Families Service PFFS provide a national helpline and a telephone befriending service and a series of useful factsheets. Tel: 0808 808 3444

Offenders’ Families Helpline Free and confidential helpline and website. Tel: 0808 808 2003

Prison Chat UK An online chat forum for those affected by having a loved-one in prison.

Family Lives Helpline and website for anyone caring for children. Tel: 0808 800 2222


Having someone sent to prison can cause severe financial problems due to loss of earnings, change in benefits and the cost of visiting prison or sending money in to the prisoner. It is easy for debts to accumulate.

Help with cost of visits Some financial help may be available for the cost of visiting prison.

Job Centre Plus (Benefits) Tel: 0800 0 55 66 88

Direct Gov Lots of financial advice as well as information about health and schools.

National Debtline Tel: 0808 808 4000

Citizens’ Advice Bureau Assisted Prison Visits Financial support for people visiting loved-ones in prison.

East Sussex Credit Union Credit Unions provide low cost ways of saving and borrowing money.

Welfare Benefits Project Advice and information for people living in East Sussex. Ring the welfare benefits helpline on 0333 344 0681 or Email:


You may find people in your community are being hostile towards you because of the crime committed by your family member. You may also find yourself unfairly represented in the press. You have a right to be safe and free from intimidation.

Anti Social Behaviour Team The Partnership Community Safety team can support you in dealing with crime and community safety.

Mediation Plus Mediation Plus offers a comprehensive range of mediation, dispute and conflict resolution services and accredited mediation training. Services in Eastbourne, Lewes and Wealden.

Sussex Police For emergency calls dial 999. For non-emergency calls dial 101. Tel: 0845 6070999

Independent Press Standards Organisation

Victim Support Offers free and confidential advice to victims of crime. Tel: 0845 3030900

Dealing with the media fact sheet This briefing from Action for Prisoners’ Families produces a free briefing sheet which helps families deal with the media.


You may have concerns about the health or safety of a prisoner or worries about the way they are being treated.

Prison Governor Write to the prison governor. They should reply within 30 days.

Duty Governor If you have immediate concerns about a prisoner, call the prison and ask to speak to the duty governor or the chaplain.

Chaplaincy The prison chaplain can check on a prisoner if there are concerns about his or her wellbeing. They can also provide reassurance for the family and pass on concerns or messages.

Family Support Worker Some prisons employ family support workers specifically to work with families and prisoners. They may be based in the visitors’ centre or in the prison itself.

Prison Reform Trust Gives free and confidential advice to prisoners and their families. Tel: 020 7251 5070, 0808 808 0060 (freephone for prisoners)


When someone is sent to prison you may need help paying the mortgage or rent or you may even need to be re-housed.

Shelter Helpline and web information for offenders. Tel: 0808 800 4444

Citizens’ Advice Bureau  An advice leaflet on prisoners and housing.

Housing Advice East Sussex Includes advice about housing benefit.


Are you worried about another family member using substances? Or about drugs paraphernalia left behind after arrest? Are you under pressure to bring drugs into the prison?

East Sussex Families and Carers Team: Support families, carers and friends who have been effected by someone else’s substance misuse or mental health problems. They work all over Hastings, Bexhill and Eastbourne. Offering advice, support and training.  Contact the team directly: Emma – 07920 786 352  or   Maxine – 07795 953 951

Safer Communities The East Sussex Safer Communities website has information and ideas about how to access support for those dealing with drug problems of themselves or a loved one.

RUOK If you have concerns about your child’s use of alcohol or would like advice on how to talk to your teenager about alcohol and drugs please contact RUOK. 01273 293966

FRANK A website and helpline offering advice, information and support to anyone concerned about substance misuse, including drug misusers, their families, friends and carers. Tel: 0800 77 66 00

Adfam An umbrella organisation which gives information to families of substance misusers.

Brighton Oasis Project (Therapy services for children and young people) offer therapeutic support to children and young people affected by family drug and alcohol problems. Children and young people aged 5-18 will receive 16 sessions of therapy where children can talk, play and make sense of their family life. Tel: 01273696970.

Domestic Abuse

The Portal support for survivors of abuse and violence.

Safe in Sussex provides education and support around domestic abuse in Sussex.


For physical and mental health problems please see your GP in the first instance.

Mental Health 
A guide to mental health services in East Sussex

Healthwatch East Sussex Contact Healthwatch If you need to speak to someone about your personal experience or have feedback about health and social care. They will be able to help and they will gather your feedback.

Care for the Carers in East Sussex: Have you been caring for a family member with mental health issues, learning difficulties, a drug or alcohol problem, dementia or some one with a physical disability? Then contact your local carers centre which offers a wide range of support and advice. Tel: 01323728390 or email at 


Resettlement advice for people with criminal records. Tel: 0300 123 1999

Sussex Pathways
 Sussex Pathways operates a mentoring support service for offenders being released back into the community, primarily from HMP Lewes & HMP Ford Open but also HMP Bronzefield & HMP Highdown.

 Community Office: 
01273 468160
 or email here. Prison Office
: HMP Lewes, 1 Brighton Road, Lewes BN7 1EA, tel: 
01273 785335
 or email here.

Rethink Mental Illness: a useful website which gives detailed information about how to prepare for the release of a family member in prison and discusses any issues around prison and mental health. Tel: 0300 5000 927

Action for Prisoners Families: a booklet with information on how to prepare for a family members release from prison.

Support for women at every stage of the criminal justice system
, tel: 01273 698 036 + option 3.


Ministry of Justice Sentence Explanation 
Government website explaining basic sentence types.

Youth Sentences Explained Offenders’ families’ helpline factsheet on youth sentencing


East Sussex Courts 
Addresses and phone numbers of Brighton and East Sussex Courts, along with maps

West Sussex Courts 
Addresses and phone numbers of West Sussex Courts, along with maps

Offenders’ Families Helpline 
Some useful factsheets about what to expect when visiting court.


To contact Sam or Denis at Sussex Prisoners’ Families: Email us here

Registered office: 39-41 Surrey St, Brighton BN1 3PB 01273 499843

Sussex Children and Families of Prisoners is a Community Interest Company Limited by Guarantee. Company number 8631063.