Xmas Cards – meaningless ritual? Not ones sent to prisoners

I’ve given and been given so many Xmas cards in my life that at some point they got devalued. Don’t send me one if all there is my name and your name and I see you all the time. Yeah, you work in my office. No, I can’t remember the last time we spoke.

A bare card seems like a poor substitute for the real reaching out and interest that we should share with the people around us– friends, family, co-workers, neighbours and acquaintances.
It’s different for prisoners. A large part of their punsihment is to keep them isolated from wider society, from their friend and family and from the social and political movements they were part of. Even if you’re not in solitary confinement, prison is a boring, alienating place. This is where a Xmas card is a crucial, meaningful gesture that can make a real difference to the person receiving it.
So at our Xmas social this year (again) we spent as much time writing and addressing Xmas cards as we did mulling cider and feasting. If you think that a trans woman shouldn’t be jailed for self-defensethat fascism should be opposed by any meansthat the merger of state and corporate spying should be exposed, that the justice system fails women, or that the UK’s treatment of asylum seekers is barbaric then don’t just sit and complain. Take one of those cards meant for your boss, or the woman in the cubicle opposite and send it to a prisoner instead.
We compiled a list of publicly-available prisoner-support appeals and made them into easy-print leaflets for you to read and act on. The information was collected in the last week, so is as good as we know for this Xmas:

The thing about prisoners is, there are more than you can write to in a single evening. You should find the ones that you can relate to and keep at it. There are many lists, one of the most comprehensive is at NYC ABC, but information is scattered all over the place and arguably the least-known prisoners are the most in support. Use personal contacts you might have to find out who needs help, we spoke to friends to get a list of refugees in detention, but for a start, a first hand through the bars, download those files above and send a card this Xmas. Even if only one.

Chances are it’ll be the most appreciated gift you send this year. And it’ll cost you less than £1. Beat that Secret Santa.