A most-distinguished host – Tom and Loaf Pottery

In the space of just a few months, Tom has left quite the impression on his customers and colleagues

Staying sharp: Tom brushing up on his sandwich-making skills


Tom Simpson is a 21-year-old young man with autism who lives in Newtownards. He is a fan of the Belfast Giants and also enjoys watching movies.


Tom joined NOW Group in September 2018 after leaving school. He was paired with Employment Officer, Conal McKee, and together they drew up Tom’s CV and commenced the search for a job. During this time, Tom also signed up for and completed NOW’s Progression to Employment course.


In September 2019, Tom applied for the role of Pottery Host at Loaf Pottery in Crawfordsburn and, just a year after coming to NOW Group, succeeded in winning his first paid job. Not that anyone would have guessed at this fact, of course, as Tom has received great feedback from staff and customers for his excellent customer service to café visitors and those taking part in pottery classes.


To coincide with his new position, Tom also began to receive assistance from NOW’s Workable (NI) team, who offered tailored support for his specific needs in the workplace. In brilliant fashion, he has used this additional help to inform his role in mentoring other participants who are on placement in Loaf Pottery.

Tom has been on furlough since March 2020 and, due to shielding, has been unable to take part in face-to-face training offered by NOW Group. He has, however, able to avail of remote learning, which he has thoroughly enjoyed: “I thought the training was really good and encouraged me to develop my skills. I am looking forward to further training in the future.”

Tom continues to update his knowledge and skills during lockdown, taking to practising his sandwiches and pizzas, painting his War Hammer characters and taking lots of walks. He is relishing his return to work.


Interested in learning more about our support services? Give us a call on 028 9043 6044 or drop us an email at admin@nowgroup.org. Our team is ready to help you into work in 2021.

This project is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014 – 2020 and the Department for the Economy.

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