Justine Williams is an experienced charity campaigns and communications professional who specialises in behaviour change – she holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Behaviour Change. For more than 20 years, she worked in animal welfare; and first pioneered the application of behaviour change theory when she was head of campaigns for the UK animal welfare charity, the RSPCA. Whilst there, she co-founded the award-winning Cat Population Control Group: a collaboration between cat welfare organisations, veterinary professionals and academics, which developed a behavioural insights-driven approach to increasing cat neutering rates in the UK. In 2019, she founded Our Family Dog a website which uses behaviour change theory to support first-time dog owners.
A chat with Justine
How did you become involved with Human Behaviour Change for Animals?
I had previously met Suzanne and Jo on the animal sector circuit and was delighted to be invited to be part of the scientific committee for their inaugural International Conference on Human Behaviour Change for Animals in 2016.
Most inspiring behaviour change intervention (animal welfare or other) and why?
A particularly inspiring behaviour change intervention is Sport England’s campaign, This Girl Can, which aims to engage more women to participate in sport an exercise. It’s a great example of the importance of audience insight. Previous campaigns had focused on issues such as making time for exercise and promoting local services, but to no avail. Then, through research, Sport England discovered a recurring theme that women felt self-conscious when exercising which acted as a barrier to participation. This Girl Can was designed around this insight, using vicarious experience (Bandura’s Social Learning Theory) to create behaviour change.
Why does behaviour change matter?
Behaviour change is designed to create sustainable change. If we don’t understand why people behave the way they do we can’t expect them to change their behaviour.
What’s your vision for behaviour change for the next five years?
When I first starting working in behaviour change it was all about public health. I remember feeling like the crazy cat lady surrounded by public health professionals when I gave my first presentation at a conference! The tide is turning and more sectors are using behaviour change and I’d like to see this growth continue, particularly in the fields of animal health, welfare and protection, where there is huge untapped opportunity.
Why do you like working with HBCA? Tell us a little bit about you and your journey into behaviour change in relation to improving the lives of animals?
I have more than 25 years’ experience working in the UK animal welfare sector, where I started out in communications and campaigning. It was during my time as Head of Campaigns for the RSPCA that I first learned about behaviour change and began researching how it could be applied to help resolve some of the stubborn animal welfare issues. A highlight of my career was co-founding the Cat Population Group which brought animal welfare organisations, academics and veterinary professionals together to take a behavioural insights driven approach to increasing cat neutering efforts in the UK. In 2017 I decided to further my academic knowledge of behaviour change and became a part-time student at the University of Derby and now hold a PGCert in Behaviour Change. I have also been trained in using the COM-B model to design behaviour change interventions.
How did you become involved?
For several reasons. First, I’m surrounded by people with a shared vision – to make the world a better place for animals and, secondly, they are as geeky as I am about behaviour change! I also really like the HBCA model which matches the needs of the organisation or issue with the right experts, moving away from the one-size-fits-all consultancy model.
Top tip for organisations getting started with behaviour change?
What influences someone to behave the way they do may not be what you think – look beyond the obvious to find out what they think.
- Strategy & planning
- Designing behaviour change interventions
- Communications and marketing
- Developing partnerships
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