Catherine Matthews is pictured with her NOW Group Employment Officer Tara McKevitt and Lavery’s Duty Manager David Henderson
Catherine Matthews is pictured with her NOW Group Employment Officer Tara McKevitt and Lavery’s Duty Manager David Henderson

Catherine Mathews from  , “I feel much more confident!”

Award winning social enterprise NOW Group is holding an information day on Thursday 21st June for people with learning difficulties and autism to find out more about their services.

As part of Learning Disability Week 2018 (18th – 24th June 2018) NOW Group will be opening the doors of their new city centre venue to showcase the wide range of services they offer. NOW’s mission is to support people with learning difficulties and autism into jobs with a future and they do this by offering a unique range of services

NOW’s flagship programme is it’s employment and training service, Verve which is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014 – 2020, the Department for the Economy and the Department for Communities. Verve is open to anyone over 18 who has a learning difficulty, learning disability, autism or associated health condition and would like support in gaining employment.

When a client joins the NOW Group employment service they are provided with a dedicated employment officer who will work with them to help prepare for looking for work or volunteering, support them in applying for jobs and then support them in their new position.

For people who aren’t ready to apply for work when they first join the service the NOW Group team work to help them prepare for applying for work and building their CV with a range of career focused training courses that include a work placement including retail, hospitality and admin. The service also offers tailored career guidance and access to a Job Club.

Catherine Mathews, aged 22 from North Belfast, had been working in Lavery’s bar in Belfast for 2 years when she approached NOW Group for support in her job.

Catherine found it difficult to follow instructions in work and also felt she lacked the confidence to approach her employer about this and ask for additional training. When she got in touch with NOW she was assigned a dedicated employer officer, Tara McKevitt, who works alongside her and her manager.

NOW offers in work support as part of the Workable (NI) programme. Speaking about the difference this has made to her, Catherine comments,

“I love the social element of working in Lavery’s and find them a really supportive employer. I can be socially awkward though and found it difficult to ask for help, that’s why I got in touch with NOW.

“Tara listens to my concerns and works closely with my manager and I to find a way around them. I prefer working on cleaning shifts in the morning and Tara helped me to tell my manager that and develop a work plan. I love these shifts now and my supervisor knows to be clear with instructions for me. I feel so much more confident now!”

In addition to its employment and training service, NOW offers a range of other services including a Big Lottery funded family service that supports parents who have a learning difficulty or autism themselves, social groups that allow people to make new friends and increase their confidence and volunteering opportunities. The organisation is also behind the JAM Card initiative, a card and app that allows people to ask for Just A Minute of patience when they need it.

Anyone interested in finding out more about NOW is welcome to call in to the information day on Thursday 21st June between 2-5pm, it will be held at NOW Group, 15-17 Grosvenor Road, Belfast, BT12 4GN. Find out more, call 028 90 436400 or email

NOW Group

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