The Great Hall in Belfast City Hall was full of proud family and friends celebrating the success of 100 graduates with learning difficulties and autism from NOW Group yesterday.
Stephen Clements and Cate Conway from Q Radio hosted the ceremony which recognised the achievements of NOW Group participants in the previous year. Learners, dressed in graduation robes, received certificates for the qualifications they gained in subjects including catering, employability courses and money management. There were also special achievement trophies given to participants and NOW Group supporters who have gone the extra mile.
NOW Group is a social enterprise that supports people with learning difficulties and autism into jobs with a future. The organisation works with participants at whatever stage of life they are, from school leavers to graduates and those with no qualifications, to support them with a range of initiatives aimed at securing paid employment. So far this financial year 56 people have found paid work through NOW’s employment service.
Lord Mayor of Belfast Nuala McAllister was a special guest at the event which also featured musical performances from world musicians Beyond Skin and some of NOW Group’s own participants. Speaking about the event, Chief Executive of NOW Group Maeve Monaghan commented,
“This graduation event is the highlight of our year; it allows us to celebrate the achievements and potential of all our fantastic participants. At NOW everything we do is focused on supporting our participants to achieve paid jobs. The qualifications they have worked so hard to achieve today are the first step to them realising that goal.
“Today’s event is a also a chance for us to celebrate all of the success within NOW Group including our social enterprise Loaf Catering and Cafes and our JAM Card initiative which businesses across the country are signing up to demonstrate their commitment to equality. There are a wide range of ways local businesses can get involved in supporting the work we are doing to change the lives of people with learning difficulties and autism.”
2018 looks set to be another big year for NOW Group has the organisation has recently completed a move to a new, purpose build City Centre office space and is getting ready to launch an arts centre and cafe in Crawfordsburn on the site of the old Pinewood Pottery.
NOW Group’s employment and training service, Workforce III, is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014 – 2020, Department for the Economy, Department for Communities, Ards and North Down Borough Council, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.
To find out more about the services the organisation offers or how your business can get involved visit nowgroup.org or call 02890 436400.