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  • Writer's pictureGerry Monaghan

Courtney arrives at a job with the right fit

Our participant was introduced to NOW during a new chapter in her life, but has found her direction in fantastic fashion

Pictured left: Courtney looking smart in her office uniform

Courtney Curry is 22 and hails from just outside Ballymena. She had just been diagnosed with Autism when she was referred by the local JBO to NOW Group for support with gaining paid employment. In her first meeting with a NOW Employment Officer, they discussed what support Courtney was looking for and her specific needs.

Following a collaborative discussion between Courtney, her father and the Employment Officer, Courtney was assigned her own keyworker, Paddy Crothers, and signed on to NOW’s supported employment programme, Verve, in December 2019.

In weekly meetings with Paddy, Courtney crafted a CV, job searched and worked on interview skills. This was all on a one-to-one basis. She then began attending a weekly job club with five/six other NOW Group participants, which provided an opportunity for social interactions as well as a place to share experiences and tips around applying for and gaining employment.

As Courtney had limited work experience, she signed up to NOW Group’s Progression to Employment academy, which was held in the training room at Ballymena library. This is a 12 week course that focuses on what to expect moving into employment, and is delivered by a skills trainer from NOW Group in a small class situation. It allows for more time and attention to be given to participants than they may have in a ‘normal’ teaching class.

Halfway through the academy, the country entered into a nationwide lockdown, meaning that no face-to-face interaction was possible and the local libraries amongst other settings were suddenly unavailable. In response, NOW Group began to deliver training courses virtually, via Zoom, also posting workbooks out to participants, enabling written work to be completed alongside virtual lessons.

Courtney was able to finish the course, equipping her with the knowledge needed for moving into employment. She also remained thoroughly engaged with Paddy, conducting joint job searches online and even attended two virtual job interviews.

Paddy was then approached by a local employer, alternative fragrance company The Essence Vault, asking if he had any participants that would be suitable for work within a production and dispatch setting. As this was a quiet environment, with a small team of staff, he was able to recommend Courtney, knowing her preferred working conditions and her strengths and weaknesses.

Paddy asked Courtney’s permission to forward her CV to the employer. She was then invited to a work trial, which Paddy was also allowed to attend. One hour into the trial, Courtney was offered a permanent paid job, for 24 hours per week.

But she was not done there. Just one week into life at The Essence Vault, Courney was offered a 40 hour per week contract, capping off a sensational journey into full-time employment in June 2020. The employer keeps in regular contact with Paddy, commending the job that Courtney is doing as an extremely valued member of his team.

On top of shining at work, Courtney is busy regularly contributing to a blog that details her experiences with autism. To read her insightful reflections, visit the Instagram page here.

Interested in learning more about our support services? Give us a call on 028 9043 6044 or drop us an email at 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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