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New growth at NOW Group as social enterprise expands leadership team

NOW Group, one of Ireland’s leading social enterprises, has marked a major milestone as its team breaks the 100 mark and appoints a new Chief Operating Officer following a year of rapid growth and expansion.

As well as supporting over 1,800 people with learning difficulties and autism every year, NOW Group has seen a significant increase in the number of its own staff across bases in Belfast, Omagh, Enniskillen and Dublin. The team now stands at 110, an uplift of 60% since last year’s 69, having welcomed a flurry of appointments at the beginning of 2024.

Taking up the post of Chief Operating Officer is Margaret Allen, who brings over 30 years’ experience in contract and retail catering, wholesale and supply chain management. Through her work with industry leaders at the highest levels, Margaret has a strong track record of designing and implementing commercial strategies which deliver growth for businesses.

Speaking on her new role, Margaret said: “I’m delighted to be joining NOW Group at what is an exciting time for the organisation. NOW Group already has an impressive reputation as the leader in their sector, so I hope I can continue to deliver on the important work the team is already doing across the UK, Ireland and beyond.

“As COO, I have been tasked with overseeing operational excellence across all areas of the business and looking at new ways that we can grow our services and social enterprises. Due to the life-changing support NOW Group provides for people with learning difficulties, I will take this role on with the care, determination and professionalism it requires.”

NOW Group works with participants and businesses to establish employment academies which offer training and support to those with Autism and other intellectual disabilities. The academies cover sectors including hospitality, retail, catering, manufacturing, warehousing and digital, while Community Development teams provide additional training and support in soft and social skills.

Maeve Monaghan, NOW Group CEO welcomed the latest recruits. She added:

“For over two decades, we have worked hard to develop our services to ensure people with learning difficulties and neurodiverse conditions have the support they need to lead the lives they deserve. The demand for these services has grown rapidly in recent years, meaning we’ve had to review how we operate as a business. The appointment of a Chief Operating Officer is a big step and marks a new direction in our strategic approach, one that will bring many benefits for NOW Group.

“Introducing new skills enables us to expand our reach even further, so we are thrilled to welcome Margaret and our latest intake of talented professionals to the team. With their help, more and more  people with learning difficulties and autism across the island of Ireland will have access to our transformational support services.”

NOW Group owns Loaf Cafés and Catering, Loaf Pottery and JAM Card.

For more information on their work and to view current vacancies, visit

Photo Caption: NOW Group CEO, Maeve Monaghan (Centre Right) welcomes the latest intake at the leading all-island social enterprise following a period of rapid growth. She is joined by (L-R) Lauren Stanely, Digital Marketing Executive, Phoebe Mann, Social Group Facilitator, Margaret Allen, Chief Operating Officer, Rebecca Waugh, Employment Officer, Anna Poland, Marketing & Communications Manager, Rebecca Richardson and Abbie Crozier, Community Support Officers.

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