Originally established in 1962 as the relief arm of Amnesty International, today we are a separate charity and the only agency in the UK which focuses on providing financial and practical assistance for prisoners of conscience.

We help individuals who have been persecuted for their conscientiously-held beliefs, provided that they have not used or advocated violence.  Our grant recipients include political prisoners, journalists, human rights defenders, lawyers, environmental activists, teachers and academics who come from over 30 countries around the world.


Provide rapid financial assistance by way of grants to ensure immediate relief, resettlement and requalification at the time of greatest need.

Evaluate all funding requests rigorously to ensure precious funds are provided to the most deserving cases. This is achieved by exercising expertise built up over many years and by utilising our network of over 50 different distribution channels including human rights organisations, refugee groups, community organisations, universities and solicitors.

Since our inception in 1962, we have provided support to more than ten thousand prisoners of conscience and their dependants and distributed more than £4 million.

We achieve big impact with few resources, with only one full-time and three part-time members of staff, and a team of dedicated volunteers.

How do we raise money?

Funding for our grants comes principally from the following three sources:

Donations – We are very lucky to have a database of loyal and generous donors who give regular donations and in some cases leave legacies.

Charitable Trusts – We enjoy support from more than 50 different charitable trusts each year, which contribute to the relief budget as well as general running costs.

We are grateful to the Sigrid Rausing Trust who have generously supported our media campaign and to Allchurches Trust, who have contributed to our capital costs.

How do we distribute grants?

Applications for relief and bursary grants are submitted by approved referral agencies.  Detailed application forms are completed by the referral agency on behalf of the applicant.  The application is then considered by a sub-committee of trustees of PoC, with advice from the office.  It takes two to four weeks from the moment that the application is received to the receipt of payment by the agency.