NOW Group is an award winning social enterprise - our services focus on supporting people into employment, training and volunteering
We are passionate about supporting people with learning difficulties and autism into jobs with a future. We do this by offering a range of services that support people at whatever stage they are - whether that is just leaving school or college, unemployed, returning to work or graduates. We also offer a family service for new or expectant parents with a learning difficulty or autism and social groups.
Employment and training
Through our European Social Fund project Verve we support people every step of the way on their journey to employment. We offer accredited training to build up skills and confidence as well as work place experience and voluntary placements. Our dedicated staff work with people to help them become job ready and then secure employment.
We also support people already in work as part of the Workable (NI) programme. This service supports employees with any form of learning difficulty or autism who are working 10 hours or more. It also works with employers to provide disability awareness training and advice around reasonable adjustments.
NOW supported Daniel from unemployment to a job in the five star Culloden Estate and Spa.
Transition from school
Our Transition Service is an individual and innovative service that supports students with different levels of learning abilities in their final years of school to explore future options and gain independence through training, mentoring and sampling work placements.
Transition II is a programme for 18-30 year olds who have a learning disability and are not yet work ready. The aim of the programme is to increase opportunities for participants to gain the skills, confidence and training to transition into employment or training services. In addition we promote independent living and social skills which incorporate a variety of activities delivered by NOW staff and external agencies including route training, money and time management, healthy lifestyle, communication skills, e-safety, music and drama workshops, volunteering and preparation for work.
The JAM Card© which says ‘Just a minute’ on one side and ‘Please be patient I have a learning difficulty on the other’ allows people to ask for a minute of patience in any situation they need it including in shops, restaurants and public transport. It is also available as an app for smartphones that allows users to select what their screen says from options including ‘I have autism/Asperger’s’, ‘I have a condition’ and ‘I have a brain injury’.
Over 137,000 people are now using the JAM Card© and app. We offer a training package to businesses, available as an online training course or face to face workshop, which allows organisations to equip their staff to provide excellent customer service to JAM Card© holders.
JAM Card and App Users
We support families where a parent has a learning difficulty or an Autistic Spectrum Condition. We work with expectant and new parents with children under five in the Belfast area to support them by building confidence, develop skills and make them more connected to their communities. When they are ready we will provide opportunities for parents to move on to NOW’s training, volunteering and employment services and plan their future.
Shelley’s story of adjusting to life as a mum of two with the support of NOW.
We are very lucky at NOW to have a team of dedicated volunteers who support our work. Local and international students, business people and the local community all offer their time to work with our participants across all services.
Last year our volunteers donated over 3543 hrs. We really value the commitment and time of our volunteers, it’s like gold dust!
Hours donated by our volunteers last year
The Kidnap group meets every Thursday at the Hive Belfast (NOW Group head offices) and provides an opportunity for adults with learning difficulties to make new friends and engage in the community by taking part in events and volunteering.
The group enjoy hanging out and taking part in bingo, quizzes and mindful colouring in. They also head out to museums, galleries and events to get to know their local community better.
Fandom is a social forum for young adults who are socially isolated and have a high functioning form of autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. We have 3 groups that meet on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays evening to socialise and carry out activities based around their interests in comics, videogames and movies. The aim of the group is to provide an opportunity for members to meet over common interests offering a safe space where they can make new friends and identify and challenge barriers they may face living within their communities.