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James Nelson secures first job in Bangor Town Hall


James Nelson is pictured with his Job Coach Emily Downey

James Nelson from Bangor has been offered his first paid job as a cleaner in Ards and North Down Borough Council following training and support from NOW.

James, aged 27 always wanted to follow in the footsteps of his late Mum and become a cleaner. However, not being able to read or write, he found traditional job search services didn’t work as he wasn’t able to complete application forms nor did he feel confident being interviewed. Things changed when he was referred to our training and employment service.


NOW specialise in offering dedicated employment officers who work with people at whatever stage they are at on their path to employment. Training courses, careers advice as well as help in applying for jobs and attending interviews is provided as part of the service.


When a cleaning job with Mount Charles based in Bangor Town Hall was advertised James applied prepping for hours beforehand with his Employment Officer. He was offered the job just hours after the interview. James now works part time hours, five days a week.


James said: “I was nervous starting the job because I didn’t know if people would like me or if I would know what to do, but everyone is really friendly and I love my job. I found it tiring at first but I like coming here every day and I know the place like the back of my hand now!


“My family are pleased, especially because I am following in Mum’s footsteps. It’s nice to be able to make my own money which I’m going to use to pay for driving lessons. NOW made everything much easier than when I was trying to get a job by myself; I’d tell everyone who has a learning difficulty to speak to them because they will be able to help you.”


NOW Group participants are able to take part in a number of accredited training courses for example Essential Skills English, Customer Service, CV Writing and Interview Skills. Employment officers also help with job searches, writing applications and can even request reasonable adjustment from potential employers to attend interviews for support. James is also part of NOW’s Skills Group, a group who meet weekly in Bangor to improve their employability skills and take part in activities that may help them secure work including job searches, employer visits and communication exercises. Through this group James has made new friends and now regularly socialises with them.


NOW continue to support participants once they have found a job and James’ Job Coach Emily Downey worked alongside him in his new role for a few weeks to make sure he was confident in what he was doing. Emily helped to break down tasks and even created a workbook showing what he had to do each day.


Councillor Richard Smart, Mayor of Ards and North Down Borough Council, said: “It is hugely important to provide support services for individuals to remove the many barriers that keep people with learning disabilities out of the work place. People with learning difficulties often struggle to get into work because of the preparation that is needed to secure and be successful in interviews. NOW Group helps to break down these barriers providing pre and post support and a pathway for people to be placed in jobs. It’s a win win for both parties.”


NOW Group’s employment and training service is part funded by the European Social Fund 2014-2020, Department for the Economy, Department for Communities and Ards and North Down Borough Council. We are holding an information day on Thursday 13th September between 4-7pm for anyone interested in finding out more about our services. It will be held at NOW Group, 15-17 Grosvenor Road, Belfast, BT12 4GN. To find out more call 028 90 436400 or email admin@nowgroup.org.

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