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International Women’s Day: NOW Group Participants Who Inspire Us

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

Ahead of this year’s International Women’s Day on Wednesday 8th March, we have put together some of NOW Group’s most inspirational women and their journeys towards employment.



Sarah’s Story



In 2020 Sarah enrolled in the Loaf Academy course, where she completed an OCN Level 1 in Vocational Skills. Having enjoyed this course so much, she decided to continue her learning by signing up to NOW Group’s OCN-accredited Hospitality Academy.


Sarah gained skills in sandwich preparation, coffee making and housekeeping. During this period of training, Sarah made friendships with other participants and developed her confidence and self-esteem.







Natalie’s Story


Natalie joined NOW Group’s Verve Jobs & Training Programme on 11th August 2022. After weekly one-on-one support from her employment officer, Natalie developed her CV and was ready to start applying for jobs.


Natalie practiced mock interviews with her employment officer and was prepared for the interview invitations she recieved. Natalie hit the jackpot and received an offer of employment from DCK. Natalie now works 5 hours per week in both M&S and River Island displaying jewellery and other accessories.






Shannon’s Story


After joining NOW Group in January 2021 Shannon signed up to attend Essential Skills classes. Alongside this she also took part in NOW Group’s Hairdressing Academy, achieving an OCN Level 1 Award in Vocational Skills.


Whilst attending the Academy, Shannon gained a 6-week placement in a local hair salon called Scissor Sisters in Belfast. Shannon has proven herself to be a real asset to the business and successfully gained part-time employment.






Lorraine’s Story



Lorraine joined NOW Group’s Workable NI programme to gain in-job work support in some key areas of her vocation in working with preschool children. Lorraine was paired with her Workable NI Officer Robyn, and they would hold regular, enjoyable meetings to talk through ways of overcoming any issues Lorraine faced in the workplace.


With Robyn’s support, Lorraine developed many skills and made significant improvements in key areas to build independence. This was very positive for both Lorraine and her employer at the Lower Oldpark Community Association.


After having made immense progress, Lorraine no longer required in-work support from Workable NI. She was very grateful for all the support she received from NOW Group and used her new skills and resilience to provide the best possible support to the children she worked with. NOW Group Staff were sad to see Lorraine move on from the Workable programme, but were so proud of her positive development.






Jasmin’s Story



During her time at NOW Group, Jasmin engaged in a variety of different training courses, including the catering-based Loaf Academy and the more interpersonal Independence Skills at the beginning of lockdown. She also spent some time further developing these qualifications by volunteering at Loaf Pottery in Crawfordsburn.


During the months of lockdown, Jasmin completed a further three courses – the Progression to Employment Academy, Managing Personal Finances, and Hospitality Academy. It was here that Emily identified as the turning point where Jasmin’s “confidence has soared.”


Not only did Jasmin contribute well during class, but she also created a valuable learning opportunity for the other participants involved by sharing her own experiences. This was quite the turnaround from the once bashful County Down native.







At NOW Group our mission is to support those with learning disabilities and autism into jobs with a future. For more inspirational stories from our participants and their employment journeys, visit the blogs section of our website.

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