A charity is using a mobile-enabled loyalty card to reward those battling substance abuse every time they use recovery services. These reward points are redeemable at local businesses and so help combat social isolation.
The Capital card was launched by WDP in April 2017 and is now used in nine London boroughs and in Cheshire West and Chester in the North of England.
Since its launch, 5,400 service users have benefitted from the scheme. The charity has built relationships with 35 different organisations including Nando’s, City Lit, MOD Pizza, Middlesex cricket club, local gyms and others, offering more than 50 different activities, services and products.
More than 990,000 points have been earned – for every intervention you gain 10 points – and more than 155,000 points have been spent. The value of the points varies, and is determined by the retailer or redemption partner.
Analysis carried out by London South Bank University has shown that the Capital card was associated with a 50% increased likelihood of service users successfully completing treatment. There is also a free Capital card app.
These points can then be spent with redemption partners that include pop-up shops selling toiletries and clothes, the cinema, gym, swimming pool, restaurants and more.
According to Manish Nanda, joint chief executive officer at WDP, the card allows service users to enjoy things they may not have been able to previously and socialise and mix within the community. He says: “That’s the crux of the Capital card– to give people an opportunity to experience things we take for granted or they may have lost a connection with.”
Nanda came up with the idea nine years ago, when he was working at the WDP service in Hackney. Prisoners released from Pentonville used to come into the service on Friday when they were released. “That’s one of the riskiest times in someone’s treatment journey,” says Nanda. “If, on the day of release, they’re on an opiate prescription and they don’t come into the service, there’s a huge risk of potential overdose and death.”
A chance conversation in a barber was what it took to create a loyalty programme that incentivises users to call in to the charity for their appointments, help local businesses by bringing in customers and help the cardholders by giving them points of interaction in their daily lives.
The scheme is going from strength to strength, and although there is the challenge of persuading businesses that opening up their premises to people with drug and alcohol issues is an OK thing to do, WDP is managing to bring onboard a steady stream of new partners to provide services and products to meet the everyday needs of card holders.
For the businesses, this is a way of meeting their CSR (corporate social responsibility) goals, and to empower their employees to give back to the community.
The WDP team, which now comprises four full-time staff as well as volunteers, are still developing the Capital card, and consult service users regularly to get feedback and suggestions. The team noticed that some people wouldn’t spend their points, instead amassing as many as possible to show family and peers how well they were doing. The next update on the app will show how many points have been earned overall, as well as the current balance and how many they have spent.
For people who don’t feel ready to use their points to attend places like the gym or the cinema on their own, the charity now runs group outings. The aim is to support people using the NHS five ways to wellbeingto meet all their needs and encourage them back into society, while the plan in the future is to provide employment opportunities.
The card comes at a time when treatment budgets are being cut. Nanda says: “There’s less resource to deliver these services. It’s really troubling. In respect to austerity biting, the generosity [from people and businesses] is enabling us to think as creatively as we’re able to and harness what’s really good in a community.”
Any business or retailer who would like to get involved with the Capital Card can contact WDP through Capital Card Manager Holly Price – firstname.lastname@example.org