NOW Group is a social enterprise which supports people with barriers to employment and learning into jobs with a future. They run a number of programmes and services including the Transition II programme and an Educational & Career Guidance Service.
Transition II is a five day activity based programme for 18-30 year olds who have a learning disability and are from the Belfast area, while the Educational & Career Guidance Service helps clients to explore all their career options so they can make an informed decision about their future.
NOW Group also run the social enterprise Loaf Catering & Cafes, which last year opened a new Cafe & Bakery on the site of a derelict, burnt out bar in West Belfast. The Cafe & Bakery will generate 10 jobs and 100 training opportunities for people with learning difficulties over the next year.
Making a difference
Everything the organisation does is based around having an impact, to ensure that they are doing that they actively measure the social impact of all aspects of their work. A social impact assessment by Gauge NI found that in 2014-15 NOW Group supported 435 people, they saved £275,000 to local services by helping to prevent young people becoming a NEET (Not in Education or Employment) and have saved £128,139 to the local economy with reduced need for day care places.
Ann Osborne, Deputy Chief Executive of NOW Group comments, “This is our annual business improvement check. Our staff work hard with clients throughout the year to help them gain the skills, confidence and experience to get jobs. Anecdotally we know from staff and clients that our services are making a difference, but it is essential for us that we actively monitor our work and ensure we are investing our time and funding into activities that have a positive impact. Being able to tell people that for every £1 invested into our work, we generated £8 in social value is something we are very proud of.”
Telling the story of success
The evaluation was carried out by social enterprise Gauge NI. They work with organisations from the private, public and third sector to help them demonstrate their social impact by measuring the outcomes of their work.
Business Development Manager Stephen McGarry comments, “At Gauge NI we help organisations to understand, measure and communicate their impact. It is essential that organisations know the difference they are making and can clearly tell their stakeholders about that, NOW have been leading the way for a long time in assessing their true value.
Our evaluation involved looking at the numbers and data from NOW Groups programmes as well as engaging with staff and service users to build up the full picture of the difference made by the group. We then used our evaluation to create an eye catching Impact Card with our design team that is easily read and accessible for all audiences.”
Photo Caption: Loaf Catering Trainee Ciaran McFadden is pictured with NOW Group Deputy Chief Executive Ann Osborne.