How to Create Positive Change: DrugFAM, Westminster Abbey & 10 Downing St

Written by Martin Lucas

This week we are exploring the success DrugFAM have experienced and what role we played in that.

Highlights you will see:

Meeting at 10 Downing St

Pictures from the event at Westminster Abbey

A letter from the Home Secretary

Understand how we achieved 731% follower growth on Twitter

282% Above Market Average for Open Rates

This all became possible because we implemented a strategy of positive behavioural change. What does that mean? Here is the background story.

Last week I shared how Thread Lab achieved 75% growth and part of that was the free report we offer any client before they commence work with us. Thread Lab was an ideas and research report whereas DrugFAM had a problem statement:

How can we raise awareness of our service and take away the stigma of Drug Abuse relating to Families?

Change is not easy, we resist change in our brains, this is mainly because our brain thrives on consistency, what it already knows and (even when change is healthy) it resists changing. With this in mind we knew a methodical strategy would be best balanced with aiming as high as we could for getting DrugFAM’s voice heard.

This is why their voice matters, founder Elizabeth discussing why she started DrugFAM:


The stigma of Drug abuse comes from the shame associated to the word abuse, having spent a lifetime working on the science of how we think and two years on this model I was very aware of how trauma works (I’m on the board of Thriving Survivors). I’d also studied the process of how suicidal thinking happens, the cause and effect, I was confident we could bring change but we would need a lot of help.

Here is the point of view from an interview with Sarah the CEO of DrugFAM:

What moments of frustration did we help solve?

Martin’s wide network of contacts and partners provided DrugFAM with a plethora of resources which we would otherwise not have had access to. The gift of time offered by Martin and his friends was an invaluable resource to DrugFAM.

Strategy, communication and innovation

We will be eternally grateful to Martin Lucas, our critical confidant and supporter throughout the Lives Worth Talking About campaign. Martin’s friendly attitude and demeanour enabled him to quickly establish himself within our team.  This enabled the rest of the staff and volunteers to build a relationship with him which was warm, trusting and valued; therefore providing a framework for open communication, challenge and innovation.

Marketing with Simon Jack

DrugFAM has a vision for a marketing strategy, but was unable to articulate this for a media campaign.  Simon took an initial idea from bland to genius, through the creation of three family puzzles.  This enabled DrugFAM to clearly articulate and brand the 3 key messages for the Lives Worth Talking About campaign.  The design will be used as part of a long-term strategy for DrugFAM and post event follow up.

Social Media with Susan Dolan (731% growth - 1,940 to 14,200) We have seen phenomenal results with our social media campaign thanks to Susan, every organisation needs a Susan in their life! Through Susan’s support we were able to adopt a social media strategy that enabled us to not only reach out to contacts within the field, but also a much wider national and international audience.  Our reach extended outside of our usual network broadening into homelessness, mental health, domestic abuse, academia to name a few.

This is step one for how we roll change. Susan is regularly in the top 5 in the world for SEO, she has 460,000+ followers on Twitter. This is not by chance, it takes a very unique type of Math Genius to understand how the algorithm of both Twitter and Google works and even then the research and output still needs the right kind of message and engagement to make people act, in this case deciding to come onboard as a DrugFAM follower. A follower is just a number unless you help them feel part of your messaging and in this case the difference you are making, that’s where Simon stepped in with some puzzles like this:


Where did you see positive changes / Which results impressed you the most?

Martin and his team helped us to feel energised and confident and supported us to think more creatively.  Martin is solution focused, encouraging and innovative.  He and his team worked with DrugFAM on strategy, organisational culture and the execution of the Westminster Abbey event.

The team helped to create a buzz of excitement for the event, through the creation of videos, use of social media, marketing campaign and also by utilising resources already available to DrugFAM which we wouldn’t have used otherwise.

Martin’s non-stigmatising and emotional intelligence approach to interviewing enabled participants to feel valued and heard, it also offered a degree of freedom to engage with issues important to them. It also enabled the interviewees to consider the wider impact of the Lives Worth Talking About campaign on their own lives and their organisational structure.

Martin interviewed both national and international leading academics in the field of addiction and was able to elicit information which provided key insight into addiction, societal attitudes and the impact on families.  Martin was open to challenge and adapted his approach to meet the needs of the participants.

If you want to take away stigma you have to take the subject matter head on. No one needs to hear ‘Drugs are bad’ type messaging, it is meant positive but has the opposite impact, we think ‘heard it before’ and you lose attention and drop off. Instead it was a real privilege to interview all kinds of academics, celebrities, DrugFAM team members and of course the inspiration that is Elizabeth their founder. the full playlist is here (more interviews being added weekly to maintain the momentum) and my personal favourite is one from Professor John Kelly from Harvard Medical School:


What was eye-opening about the results?

Martin supported changes with the main address for Westminster Abbey. His viewpoints provided an insight which was invaluable to promoting positive and lasting change.  The main address was transformed into positivity and reinforced how society’s attitudes and belief systems can contribute to this national and international issue. The amendments also harnessed the energy of the campaign, insights from the interviews and how the leading academics believe the neuro-scientific discoveries will help shape future attitudes, beliefs and approaches to dealing with addiction.

My contribution to the speech was about the future, I looked at the changes we had seen occur in the mental health space, 10 years ago it was less acceptable to discuss things like depression and anxiety, today it is more open as a discussion point, what could that mean for Drug Disease, support and awareness? Great support and insight on the strategy parts with Dan on our team. This also played its part in the strategy for the 10 Downing St meeting. That was cool, here are Sarah and Elizabeth from DrugFAM alongside Susan and I post meeting:


This was the start of a lot of media activity including an article in The Times and various radio and TV activity.

How has it helped your internal process, habits or your behaviours?

Having a critical friend and mentor through Martin enabled DrugFAM to see the vision of the project through a different lens; with a focus on positive and behavioural change.  With Martin’s support we looked at the project from a different perspectives, which focused on the long-term goals of the project and post-event experiences.

This approach has made a sustainable impact in our organisational philosophy and will be embedded within our work for the future.

The biggest result for DrugFAM was the change in positive thinking. We work with trauma and emotional distress on a daily basis, having someone new come into the organisation provided a new and revived insight into our work.  Martin and Sarah were able to brainstorm ideas and re-work the vision and strategy - The Service of Commemoration and Hope, shifted to a Service of Celebration and Hope.  Taking the negatives and turning them into a positive, this was the start of a renewed and re-energised change to the campaign.  Through the re-wording of the service we worked on motivation and positive changes to establish ideas for the strategy moving forward.

Martin was great at highlighting and helping DrugFAM to celebrate the small achievements, which helped keep the team motivated.

It’s hard to put into words how amazing Westminster Abbey was, nearly 2,000 people in the same place for the same cause and all because we wanted to help eliminate stigma and looking at how to create a more positive future.

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Here is the review by Westminster Abbey themselves

I was very honoured to be asked to deliver a prayer during the service! Quite the church to stand up and talk in, gulp :)

What has made you happier about the changes we brought?

Martin is a visionary and is incredibly supportive. Martin has an amazing team working with him who are friendly, talented and committed to making a lasting change.

Through the support of Martin and his team DrugFAM experienced improved engagement and communication with a broad spectrum of partners, a revised framework and frame of reference for the purpose and vision of the campaign.  We worked with a solution-focused approach; innovation and wider outcomes achieved; learning opportunities and sustained organisational change for DrugFAM.

The Team and I love behavioural change, it’s why we do what we do. Sometimes it’s growing revenue and sometimes it’s solving problems. We loved the results achieved for DrugFAM in their newsletter production, we averaged 282% above market averages for open rates and the click rates were through the roof before AND after the event. Screenshot from Mailchimp:


The blue line is the open rates for DrugFAM

The red line is the market average for Non Profits

What would you say to another company about us?

If you are looking for someone to help you make a lasting impact and positive change, contact Martin and his team. They are friendly, willing, flexible, innovative and supportive.  They will take the time to listen to your needs; they will take the time to embed themselves within your organisation, they will help you to make a lasting difference!

Our thanks to Sarah, Elizabeth and the DrugFAM team for asking us to help them. We are extremely grateful to have played a part. Being asked to be on the board of Trustees was the icing on the cake of a job well done! I will leave the last word to the Home Secretary, see if you can spot the keywords she uses, remember the brain only repeats what it accepts as change :)