Business

'NOW is the time' as social enterprise launches all-Ireland growth plan

Pictured at the launch of the organisation’s strategic growth plan at Loaf Café at Kilmainham in Dublin are NOW Group chief executive Maeve Monaghan and chair John Gordon
Pictured at the launch of the organisation’s strategic growth plan at Loaf Café at Kilmainham in Dublin are NOW Group chief executive Maeve Monaghan and chair John Gordon Pictured at the launch of the organisation’s strategic growth plan at Loaf Café at Kilmainham in Dublin are NOW Group chief executive Maeve Monaghan and chair John Gordon

ONE of the north’s leading social enterprises NOW Group is expanding its services across Ireland, which will significantly increase its headcount and provision of services across the Island.

A five-year strategic growth plan – outlining more Loaf Catering cafes, new jobs and employment academies for people with intellectual disabilities, autism and neurodiverse conditions - was launched in Dublin as the organisation opened its first Loaf Café in Kilmainham.

Operating in Northern Ireland for more than two decades, NOW Group (www.nowgroup.org) is headed by chief executive Maeve Monaghan.

And aligned to an expansion of it services is the newly created role of chief operating officer (COO), which is currently being recruited for and who will join the organisation at a pivotal time.

Ms Monaghan says: “We've fulfilled a long-held ambition to launch our first Loaf Café in Dublin, following a two-year search for a suitable location. It was a hugely important step for us and cemented our commitment to delivering all our services for people with disabilities across Ireland.

“To spearhead the growth of the organisation, we have identified the need for a COO, who will work alongside our senior management team and myself.

“It’s a huge milestone for NOW Group and a phenomenal opportunity for someone who is committed to furthering our impact, delivering meaningful work and having a senior role with a true purpose.”

The NOW Group Growth Plan, which runs until 2028, covers five major pillars which benefit people, employers, and communities.

Having already announced its first digital & Loaf Catering Academy in Dublin, NOW Group is targeting the creation and delivery of 25 employment academies for those with intellectual disabilities, autism and neurodiverse conditions within the next five years, delivering skills for over 1,000 participants.

NOW is set on further cementing the Loaf Catering brand (www.loafcatering.com) with the launch of a corporate catering business and plans to open another café soon.

The social enterprise is committed to assisting 300 participants into jobs with a future.

To facilitate, support and foster this growth, NOW Group will establish a Dublin hub for the organisation, with potentially 20 new jobs created in the next five years, in addition to further job creation in Northern Ireland.

It also wants to build on the success of the JAM Card, surpassing 200,000 users in Ireland.

NOW Group chair John Gordon said: “Our organisation has made a major impact to thousands of people, their families and workforces in Northern Ireland. NOW Group has honed its services over 20 years, and there’s so much potential to make an impact in every county of Ireland.

“Our growth plan sets out the organisation’s ambition, mapping out our vision and how we will strive to work with purpose in creating more inclusive societies across Ireland to the benefit of all.”

Last year, the NOW Group delivered employment opportunities for 200 people in Northern Ireland and trained 1000 participants through its courses and academies.

In May NOW was chosen as one of four non-profit organisations helping to tackle youth unemployment in Dublin’s most disadvantaged areas under Rethink Ireland’s €763,000 Urban Uplift Fund.

As part of the fund, up to 120 marginalised young adults will be empowered into jobs, apprenticeships or work experience programmes, with up to 75 enabled to complete certified training and up to 80 to progress on to further education.