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Newry hosts first ‘Joy Seminar’ for Ireland’s business community

HAPPY DAYS: Newry social entrepreneurs and business leaders plug into the power of joy (Photo: Clive Price Media)

Building joy should be part of your business. That was the message at the two-day ‘Joy Seminar’ that drew people from across Newry to the Joe Magill Suite at WIN Business Park last week (4th-5th April).

Around 20 delegates came from charities and companies to hear international speaker Anne Sloan on ‘Restoring Joy In A Post-Covid World’. It was the first time she had delivered this talk to Ireland’s business community. Using findings from neuroscience, Anne encouraged people to build joy in their work.

A trained life coach and conflict mediator, Anne told her audience where the ‘joy centre’ is located in the brain. She shared ways of building joy in the workplace such as asking the simple question, ‘What brings you joy?’ and using your voice and face to say, ‘I’m glad to see you’. Said Anne, ‘Joy is connection.’

Anne said her own quest for joy began 19 years ago after her father died unexpectedly. ‘I woke up one morning and realised I wasn’t well,’ she explained. She went on an emotional education course, researched joy and wrote a thesis on it. ‘I started to experience joy for the first time,’ she said.

At the Newry seminar, Anne shared simple exercises business people could use to find peace and experience joy – even if they had suffered past trauma. ‘These exercises work,’ she said, ‘I’ve seen a difference in people’s lives.’ Among the exercises was creating a ‘bank’ of joyful memories, and focusing on them three times a day for 30 days.

The event was hosted by Newry & Mourne Enterprise Agency and Fringe Coffee Co. Part of Fringe’s vision is to help create spaces like this where people can ‘come together, find connection and see restoration’. Newry & Mourne Enterprise Agency is a non-profit providing start-up support to local businesses and social enterprises.

Attendees came from Fringe Coffee Co, YWAM, Women’s Aid Armagh Down, Newry & Mourne Coop, Funk Soul Media, Centred Soul, Work4UPlus, Social Enterprise NMD, Specially Connected, Newry Menopause Café, Elios Centre, Temple Spa, Clive Price Media and Methodist Ministers’ Housing Society.

Christa Curry of Fringe Coffee Co said, ‘There’s a huge presence of social entrepreneurs here in the local area that have a heart to see restorative change. The toll that can take on anyone – especially in the aftershocks of a pandemic – can be incredibly challenging. Anne did a fantastic job of explaining the neuroscience and offering tools to help repair any damage done’.

Stephen McClelland, Director of Social Enterprise Newry, Mourne & Down, said, ‘Our community, voluntary and social enterprise sector has been central to supporting local communities throughout the recent Covid pandemic and currently during the cost-of-living crisis. Anne reminded us that joy is vital, and more important than ever’.

Anne was impressed with participants' involvement in the lives of local people. ‘I’ve come away inspired by the many lives impacted over the past decades,’ she said. ‘Mine certainly has been by not only the beautiful area, but also the welcome and hospitality of all those I met. Particular thanks must go to Stephen McClelland – whose dedication to local entrepreneurs and businesses is inspiring.’

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