Those on the outside can offer a great deal of comfort and support for prisoners by doing some simple things. All prisoners crave contact with the outside, particularly those with young children. There is no limit as to the number, or length, of letter that can be sent and post is always well received. It is also sensible to send small books of stamps into the prison to encourage responses.
The vast majority of prisons do not allow you to post in items to a prisoner, if you do post items in they will just be returned to you, or held by the prison in storage until release date. Prison does, however, allow you to take things into the prison on visits subject to a number of restrictions. Look at the individual prison pages for more detailed information on how visits are run at each prison.
The first of restrictions are that the item you are bringing in is an allowed item, ie it is on the facilities list as being permitted by the prison. You will not be allowed to bring in tobacco or other related items, neither will food and drink be allowed. The actual rules applied alter form prison to prison, eg some prison only allow item brought in on weekend visits, or within the first month of custody, so look at the individual prison pages for information.
Visits are important to everybody involved. Whilst some visiting areas are not very welcoming the prison do try very hard to make the visit an enjoyable and stress free occasion. You book visits direct with the prison on a dedicated phone number, and when confirmed you will be given a specific date and time. It is wide to arrive for the visit in good time as you will be subjected to a search, which will vary between an airport style pat down, a drug dog investigation to a full body search. These full searches are undignified and unpleasant for you and the prison officer, but it best to grin and bear it. If you refuse the search you will be denied access to the visit.
It is also wise to check with the prison what items you are allowed to take into the visit hall with you. Obviously electronic items such as mobile phones or tablets are not permitted, but some prison do not allow any money to be taken in, or others coins only. In other you exchange money for tokens which you can exchange for tea & coffee etc while in the visit hall.