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  • Writer's pictureGerry Monaghan

NOW Group serves up food education for 60 families thanks to £100,000 donation from Barclays

Adrian Doran, Head of Barclays Northern Ireland, Piia Laurits, Manager at Loaf Café, Ulster Museum and Pauline Fitzsimons, Director of Operations at NOW Group

NOW Group was one of 100 UK organisations to be awarded a £100,000 donation from Barclays in early 2021.

Chosen by a selection committee for the meaningful work we are doing with people with learning difficulties and autism and their families, the financial support from Barclays has been instrumental in helping to educate and feed families across Northern Ireland.

The donation facilitated the development and implementation of a project, run by the NOW Group’s Family Service, that supported 100 families in various ways during the COVID recovery phase. The food education element of the programme has benefited 60 families across Northern Ireland over the past seven months.

Designed to educate participating families on the benefits of cooking from scratch and reduce reliance on processed food and takeaways, NOW Group delivered a weekly fresh produce box complete with a recipe card to those in need.

Pauline Fitzsimons, Director of Operations at the NOW Group, said: “This generous donation from Barclays has enabled us really make a difference to families right here in Northern Ireland.

“Our food education programme has focused on building resilience, providing food education and offered practical support to families and participants with learning difficulties and autism.

“The legacy of this project for our participating families and their dependents will be new skills to enable the families to cook good quality meals in their own homes and feeling more prepared to face challenges in the future.”

Incorporating healthy, easy-to-follow recipes and meal plan options, feedback from the programme has been outstanding.

NOW Group Family Service participant, Marie Murphy, who has a daughter aged 9 months and lives in Belfast took part in the programme with her partner John Barnes and says, "We really enjoyed cooking the packs we received and taking part in the live cook-a-longs. Coming together as a family to cook was great and we will be making some of our favourite recipes again in the future."

NOW Group is one of 100 organisations to receive a donation from Barclays’ £100m Community Aid Package which has been set up to support organisations helping people and communities most impacted by the pandemic. £10m of this funding has been donated through Barclay’s 100x100 UK COVID-19 Community Relief Programme.

Adrian Doran, Head of Barclays Northern Ireland, added: “The NOW Group provides vital support to people with autism and learning difficulties, support which is more important than ever due to the prolonged impact of the coronavirus crisis.

“I am pleased that the donations we are making to charities in Northern Ireland, totalling £800k over the last year, is enabling charities like the NOW Group to amplify their work and support more people as we transition out of this crisis.”

Alongside its Loaf Catering operation, NOW Group has a long tradition of working to improve understanding of and access to nutritious, healthy food. In October 2020, Loaf Café in West Belfast stepped in to provide over 1,000 free meals to any child needing one during the half term break; and with the backing from Barclays, the NOW Group are committed to supporting and providing food to families that need it the most.

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