Contemplating Action

By Neontribe

Contemplating Action is a digital project based on a simple idea

  • Many people are thinking about the need to deal with something difficult in their lives
  • Many organisations run helplines, messaging services and web chats to support them
  • Some people miss out on getting help because there are fears or barriers in their way


  • One way to help people overcome those fears or barriers and ask for help is to give them simple, visual stories of other people doing the same thing.

We want to test whether the same kind of web app could help lots of these people reach helplines, even though the issues they are facing are very different.

This project is delivered by Neontribe in partnership with CAST

Our idea comes from the theory of change.

People’s journeys fall broadly into the pattern:

Pre-contemplation ➞ Contemplation ➞ Preparation ➞ Action ➞ Maintenance

The images uses overlapping circles and arrows to show theory of change as a cycle for 3 different situations, and then a larger version in the middle which represents the similarities. The words are: Domestic Abuse: Unaware; aware; Leaving; Recovering. Exercise: Not ready; Getting ready; Ready; Action; Continuing. Alcohol & Drugs: No, Not me; Well maybe; What do I do now; Lets do this; It is possible. Overall: Pre-contemplation; Contemplation; Preparation; Action; Maintenance.
The last cycle has a phone and chat symbol at the centre

The solution we are testing

We want to help people step out of contemplation and seek advice and support as they move through preparation into action.

We are testing one particular digital intervention to see if it can be effective in helping people with different problems turn to organisations that can support them.

The chart has 4 boxes from left to right. 1) Individual is in their own thoughts, but engaged with a social media channel as a “downtime” activity. Fears and barriers are holding them back from actively seeking help. 2) An intervention in that channel takes them to a small app. 3) That app tackles those fears by a combination of short stories with illustrations demonstrating positive outcomes and short information passages in plain english. 4) The individual leaves that app by one of the routes it offers to real time support (a helpline or chatline). From the third box on the flow chart, a triangular loop can be followed visiting 2 additional steps. 3b) The individual has read enough for now, and closes the app to get on with other things. 3c) An incident occurs which reminds the individual of the pressure of their situation so they decide to look at the app again.

The story behind our starting point:

In 2017, with funding from Comic Relief, Neontribe and The Haven, Wolverhampton worked with women who had left an abusive situation behind to co-design an app for other vulnerable women. Called “You Matter” this app focuses on helping women overcome their fears about seeking help. It also reassures women that they are entitled to support and deserve to get that support.

The first day the app was used on facebook, the helpline received a call from a woman who reported that “I wasn’t sure, I didn’t know if I was being abused, but I’ve been on You Matter and now I think I need to talk to someone”

The app is now in an extension phase exploring different publicity methods, and looking at whether this success story can be repeated.

Getting involved

Do you work in a service that recognises this theory of change? You can get involved by exploring the Contemplating Action App which we have created to show how we can reuse the work from the original project to help different groups of people. You can take a short survey to help us test the concept. If you find you think it is helpful, you could become one of a small number of services partnering with us for the the next phase. The instructions on how to show your interest are in the app.

For any further information, contact