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NOW Group

Organisation Summary

Business Sector:Social Enterprise

Business Activities:Catering/Employment/Training

Business Location:UK and Ireland wide

Chief Executive:Maeve Monaghan



Legal structure:Limited Company with Charitable status

NOW Group

NOW Group, a limited company with charitable status, is an award-winning social enterprise that supports people with learning difficulties and autism into jobs with a future. The organisation has 80 permanent staff and in 2019/20 provided over 1000 people with the training and support they needed to get the job they wanted and to keep it.


NOW Group was named Social Enterprise of the Year at the Belfast Business Awards in 2017 and Tech for Good winner at the Social Enterprise UK Awards in 2018. Social Enterprise NI awarded NOW Group the Social Impact award at their 2019 awards and OCN named them Training Provider of the Year in June 2020. The organisation’s Family Service won the Disability category at the UK Charity Awards in June 2021.

The organisation operates three successful social enterprise businesses called Loaf Catering, JAM Card and Gauge Impact, the profits from which go back into NOW Group’s work.

Loaf Catering & Cafés is a social enterprise operating cafés across Northern Ireland and an outside catering business servicing the greater Belfast area. Loaf has gone from strength to strength since its launch in 2007. In 2014 it took over management of Belfast City Hall’s Bobbin Coffee Shop and competed against private sector businesses to secure a number of large catering contracts, including most recently the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh – part of National Museums NI (NMNI). June 2015 saw the social enterprise open a brand new café and bakery on the site of a vacant, burnt-out bar in West Belfast’s Grosvenor Road, creating 10 jobs for local people, along with 100 training placements for catering trainees with learning difficulties over the following year. In 2018 the Group opened a coffee shop and pottery in Crawfordsburn, County Down, that runs a comprehensive events programme and is available for private hire. During the Covid pandemic in 2020 Loaf stepped in to run cafes in two further NMNI locations in Cultra and the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

Gauge Impact supports organisations across the third, private, public and philanthropic sectors in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to measure, evaluate and communicate their social impact.

JAM Card is a social innovation initiative from NOW Group developed by its participants to encourage businesses, including transport providers, banks and retailers, to train their staff to recognise and support people with communication difficulties. Showing a JAM Card allows a person to ask for just a minute of patience. JAM Card has proven very successful with over 70,000 JAM Card users and a range of leading businesses have signed up including Lidl, AIB and Ireland’s National Transport Authority.

E3M Member

NOW Group

Name:Maeve Monaghan

Title :Chief Executive

Maeve was appointed to NOW Group in 2001 and has been responsible for the development of the organisation over the past 20 years. She has been Chief Executive for the past 14 years and believes passionately in the rights of people with disabilities to have equal access to high quality training and employment.

Maeve has an Advanced Diploma in Management Practices and a Masters in Executive Leadership from the University of Ulster. She was named one of Belfast’s Top 50 Business People in 2007 and 2011 (Belfast Media Group), Female Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 (Social Enterprise Awards NI) and Outstanding Leadership and Management Leader at the 2018 Women in Business awards. Maeve has been Chair of the Community Foundation Northern Ireland since October 2015 and was the Chair of Give Inc., Ireland’s first Giving Circle.