Our history

New Bridge Foundation was founded in 1956 with the intention of using volunteers to support people in prison to resettle back into the community after release, by prominent prison reformer Lord Longford (you can read more about Lord Longford in this blog post by our Vice President, Jonathan Aitken). Over the years we have run a variety of additional projects to support people to this end, including Through The Gate programmes and family support programmes. However our core offering since our inception has been a befriending service delivered by volunteers, which we continue to run today.

For over 65 years, our volunteers have offered a bridge to the outside world to people serving prison sentences across England and Wales by offering non-judgemental social contact to some of the most isolated and vulnerable in our society. Our volunteers form connections with prisoners across the country through letter writing and visits, which:

  • reaffirm the person’s sense of self-worth and feeling of belonging in any community
  • help to aid successful reintegration after release, reducing reoffending
  • combat loneliness and improve the mental health of those serving long prison sentences

We continue to grow every year, and in 2021 reached over 1,000 people across 74 prison sites.

The New Bridge Foundation