Techies in Residence - The Now Group

Techies in Residence - The Now Group

28 January 2016

We're taking a closer look at the organisations working in our Techies in Residence programme. Next up it is The Now Group...

NOW Group, Northern Ireland Social Enterprise of the Year 2014, supports people with barriers to employment and learning into the workforce.

NOW Group use creative, innovative approaches to help its clients get the job they want and keep it, with core services covering the areas of supported employment, training, volunteering and family support.

The organisation owns two, successful social enterprise subsidiaries – Loaf Catering & Cafés and Gauge NI – the profits from which are reinvested back into NOW Group’’s work.

NOW Group aims to utilise the expert knowledge and guidance it will receive as part of the Techies In Residence  programme to help the organisation expand and enhance its innovative programmes that help improve the lives of the adults it works with, who all have various levels of learning difficulties.

A key area of NOW Group’’s approach is to work closely with its service users to identify issues and barriers that may hinder their life choices. It does this by facilitating open, friendly spaces and forums where they can talk about these issues with other NOW service users and support workers. It was during one of these discussions – where it was brought up how paying for good and services at a check-out or paying for public transport can cause nervousness and anxiety – that the JAM Card was born.

The JAM Card (an abbreviation of ‘Just A Minute’) is a credit card-sized plastic card that people with learning disabilities/difficulties can carry and use to alert staff in retail outlets, public/private transport providers and other areas of public life that the card-holder needs ‘Just A Minute’ of patience and time when interacting with the card holder.

Since its official unveiling in December 2012, NOW has been overwhelmed by interest in the JAM Card. And while this concept came from grassroots engagement with service users who now regularly use the card, we believe the expertise from the technology sector can help us open up access to the JAM Card to a wider range of people and help develop the benefits of using the card.

NOW Group got involved with the Techies in Residents programme as it believes the solutions that digital technology offers can help improve lives of the people NOW work.

We are very excited about the possibilities this partnership can bring, not only lifting the Jam Card concept to the next level but also in giving us an opportunity to learn new skills and help shape our future thinking and methods of working.

NOW Group believe this partnership with Techies In Residence is the tipping point of something very exciting. With NOW’s knack for innovative ideas that promote inclusion for some of the most hard-to-reach groups in society and TIR’s digital expertise, the world is their oyster.

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