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A bit about Maeve

Maeve was appointed to NOW Group in 2001 and has been responsible for the growth and development of the organisation over the past 21 years.  She has been Chief Executive for the past 14 years and believes in the rights of people with disabilities to have equal access to high quality training and employment.

She is a passionate social entrepreneur who develops innovative solutions with business leaders and corporations across the island of Ireland to identify opportunities to increase the number of disabled people in paid jobs. In 2022-23 Maeve’s organisation supported 1753 people with learning difficulties and Autism to achieve 1000 qualifications and obtain 180 jobs all against the backdrop of economic uncertainty.  The NOW Group model has had great success in Ireland and Maeve has ambitious plans to support 6000 people with disabilities and secure 900 paid jobs over the next 3 years.  

Maeve’s organisation has devised a Social Value Partnership model that takes advantage of new social value scoring in public / government tenders.  This work sees businesses and corporations including Deloitte, Danske Bank, Transport for Ireland collaborating with her organisation to develop training and employment academies to prepare participants with disabilities to fill roles that businesses find hard to fill in sectors including digital, catering, retail, warehousing, business services and horticulture.  This model has had significant success with NOW Group winning a tender from UK Government to support 100 people with disabilities to access training models that saw 50% of them gain paid employment within 6 months.


Over 10 years ago Maeve worked with a group of participants to develop the JAM Card initiative ( that has seen amazing success in tackling the barriers people with hidden disabilities face when trying to access goods and services in their local communities. JAM Card is a physical and digital card that encourages people to give users ‘just a minute’ and has 135,000 users across the UK and Ireland as well as 11,000 business staff having received bespoke JAM card training.  It has been hugely successful with all transport providers in Ireland now JAM card trained, all the banks, many universities and a wealth of private businesses including Lidl and Citi Bank. JAM Card has been of particular interest to utilitiy companies across the island of Ireland with training contracts secured with NI Water, NI Power, Energie, Firmus Energy etc.  

Maeve has an Advanced Diploma in Management Practices and a Masters in Executive Leadership from Ulster University. She was also awarded a Social Entrepreneur Award in 2017, was twice named one of Belfast’s Top 50 Business People was named Female Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 and Training and Development Leader of the Year 2018 by Women in Business.  In March 2022 Maeve was awarded an MBE for service to people with learning difficulties.

NOW Group, a limited company with charitable status (NGO), is an award-winning social enterprise that supports people with learning difficulties, intellectual disability and Autism into the workforce.

The organisation also operates other successful social enterprise businesses called Loaf Catering (operating in Northern Ireland and Ireland) the profits from which go back into NOW Group’s work.

NOW Group’s interest in Los Angeles

Maeve was invited by Dr Victoria Graf, Professor Emeritus of Loyola Marymount University to visit LA to explore ways to connect with organisations supporting young people with intellectual disabilities in inclusive education and explore ways to expand their innovative partnership model with business and corporations to increase job opportunities for people with disabilities. 

Maeve is keen to connect with organisations looking to increase engagement with customers with hidden disabilities and/or develop internal HR practices to recruit and retain talent with hidden disabilities to fill identified skills gaps.  We are seeking to partner with leading businesses to get as many businesses as possible to sign up to be JAM Card friendly.  We also want to connect with organisations that support people with disabilities to increase the number of JAM Card users in LA.  

Support currently needed:


  • Connection to businesses that can help us print and distribute JAM Cards in the US.  JAM Cards are given out to users free of charge so getting cards printed and distributed for free of charge or at a reduced rate is imperative.

  • Connection to customer facing businesses who are interested in investing to become JAM Card friendly and using our online training programme to roll the training to their people.

  • Connection to leading LA Venues who would be interested in investing in becoming JAM Card friendly venues.  We can also explore designing JAM quiet areas for venues with this interest.

  • Business areas of interest (based on what’s worked in UK and Ireland) include banks, retail chains, hospitals, pharmacy chains, public transport, visitor attractions, arts venues etc.

  • Connection to business leaders who see the value of real inclusion and need support thinking how they can recruit and retain talent with intellectual disabilities, learning difficulties and Autism.

  • Connection to other NGO CEOs supporting people with disabilities who could help us promote and distribute JAM Cards to new users.


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