NOW Group is a social enterprise that supports people with learning difficulties and autism into jobs with a future.
It does this by providing a range of services to participants including training, employment, social groups and volunteering. It is the parent organisation of Loaf Catering and Cafes and Gauge NI.
What NOW Group did
NOW Group has an ongoing policy of engaging and working with the local community. Some of its activities include:
Operating a social enterprise catering business Loaf Catering – an outside catering business – and two Cafes. Its Grosvenor Road Bakery is built on the site of the former Oak Bar, a piece of land which lay derelict for 10 years before NOW transformed it into a vibrant cafe. It has built tangible links with the local community including a partnership with a community garden on the Grosvenor Road which supplies fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables for the cafe to use in its menu. It has also developed a relationship with local primary school, St Joseph’s and it takes part in and supports the annual Feile festival in West Belfast.
The JAM Card – developed following discussions with NOW participants – is a card and app that allows people with learning difficulties and autism to ask for Just A Minute of patience when they need it. It allows users to discreetly ask for a little extra time in customer service situations, with more than 8,000 people now using it. NOW has developed and launched a training package for businesses.
At all stages of the planning and implementation of its community engagement activities it involves stakeholders to ensure it has maximum impact. This includes a robust employee engagement strategy that allows for feedback from employees around our community activities.
Impacts and Outcomes
- For every £1 invested in NOW Group, it generated £10 social impact
- Supported 370 participants with its work
- 52 volunteers donated a total of 3,267 hours to support its work
- 2,641 people are more aware of disability awareness issues in the community due to its activities
- 490 employees benefitted from increased levels of disability awareness in the workplace
- 8,000 people now use the JAM Card and App
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