Christmas Letters to Prisoners secretary, Allen Turner, took the precaution of purchasing a thousand stamps in advance of the recent hike in postal prices. They said that the rises would be a big burden on a charity, which for 132 years has been sending handwritten letters to prisoners every Christmas. It was the idea of Susannah Lloyd, daughter of the governor of Cork Gaol. Sixteen thousand letters are sent to about 30 per cent of the prison population, in just under half the prisons in the United Kingdom. For some prisoners it is the only letter they receive at Christmas. Last year requests for letters were slightly down, because eight prisons rejected them, although seven prisons joined. Multiculturalism is the reason for the falling number of prison chaplains who want a Christmas letter for their flock, although the evidence is that Muslims, Sikhs and other non-Christians are very happy to receive the letters. “I’m not just giving these out only to Christians,” said one prisoner, who the chaplain asked to distribute the letters. The charity has again been asked for letters for English speaking prisons in Africa and sends a few letters to Belgium for English speakers in prisons there. The production of Christmas letters for prisoners is a complex procedure. Volunteers draft original letters, the suitability of whose contents has to be checked by a committee. The letters are then copied by hand by other volunteers. People can make mistakes hurrying with copying – each individual can write out 194 copies – so each letter has to be checked. People who have retired to Spain are among the copyists, as well as people in all parts of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Christmas letters are currently being boxed for sending to prisons in November. More volunteers – and donations – would be welcome at Christmas Letters to Prisoners, 52a Whitehorse Lane, South Norwood, London SE25 6RE. There is a website – http://www.christmasletters.plus.com/.