NOW Group in call for public to 'buy social' and support social enterprise

Maeve Monaghan from the NOW Project which has launched a new #buysocial campaign for 2016
Gail Bell

SOCIAL enterprise, the NOW Group, has launched a new campaign encouraging Northern Ireland consumers to 'buy social' in 2016.

Chief executive Maeve Monaghan said by supporting #buysocial everyone could help make a difference to local enterprise and guide people towards better jobs and brighter futures.

"We are encouraging everyone to #buysocial in 2016 and to incorporate supporting social enterprises into their daily lives," she said.

"By visiting our cafes or using our catering service, you are not only receiving high quality, freshly made food, but helping transform the lives of others.

"All profits made by our cafes and corporate catering social enterprise go back into NOW Group to help provide opportunities to people experiencing barriers to learning or employment."

The group operates two businesses - the Bobbin cafe at Belfast City Hall and Loaf cafe and bakery on Grosvenor Road which was opened in June following extensive renovations at the site of the former Oak Bar.

Purchased with capital support of £60,000 from the Department of Social Development under the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme, the derelict building was transformed as a social enterprise, benefitting up to 100 young adults with learning difficulties who took up positions as trainee chefs, bakers, porters and waiters.

Loaf, the catering arm of the operation, has also been running the Bobbin at Belfast City Hall since taking over the contract in September 2014.

In the 2014/15 financial year Ms Monaghan said the NOW Group had assisted 435 people and supported 278 people in gaining a total of 361 qualifications.

"During that financial year, for every £1 invested in NOW Group, £8 was generated in social value," she added.

The group, a delivery partner of Lloyds Banking Group’s award-winning personal money management programme, 'Money For Life', engaged over 300 employers, helped 32 people into paid jobs and generated over £279,167 in wages - a 44 per increase on the previous year.

Following the festive break, Loaf Catering and Loaf Cafe and Bakery will reopen for trading on Monday January 4 with The Bobbin opening on Tuesday January 5.


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