BUSINESS people from across Down District who have joined up for the Beyond Business Programme enjoyed an end of summer barbecue and networking event at Daisies Cafe in the St Patrick Centre in Downpatrick.
Last Thursday (30 August) over 50 business representatives and local district councillors gathered and before the networking event, listened to speakers who each applauded the Beyond programme.
Down District Council Vice Chairperson Councillor Marie McCarthy in her opening address said: “It is great to see so many individuals from the local business community here this evening. The aim of the Beyond programme and network is to assist business owner/managers update business knowledge, work together to develop business opportunities and a strong local economy.” After thanking programme funders for their valuable support Councillor McCarthy said she hoped everyone had “an enjoyable evening of successful business networking.”
Claire Bain of Next Steps Consulting in her presentation explained that the power of networking had made a huge difference to the development of her business. She said: “On one occasion, I was invited to make a short presentation to a group, someone in the audience then asked me to speak at another business group and in that audience someone invited me to speak for 30 minutes to a business audience of 150. It was participating initially in the Beyond programme that I managed to move this forward. I have also worked with Beyond as a mentor and have thoroughly enjoyed this experience.”
Deirdre McLaughlin, the owner of Sign2Music, a baby signing business which helps all young children communicate better, explained that she had a session with a business mentor and now her organisation and administration has much improved and across Northern Ireland she employs seven teachers. “The support I have received from Beyond has really helped me pull myself together and move forward from a good business idea to making it start to happen.” Deirdre also gave a practical demonstration of her work by getting the audience to sing old Macdonald has a Farm while using basic signs. She explained that her own daughter before she could even talk, could use around 70 non-verbal signs such as ‘hungry’, ‘tired’, thirsty etc.
And Gerald Barrett of Eclipse Cinema also shared his story of self-employment, the challenges he faced, business highlights and their experience of the Beyond Programme. He said: “We now employ around 40 young people and they all like working at the cinema very much. We have another two cinemas as part of our group and we try to keep our entertainments up to date for everyone. During the Beyond Business Week in the summer we hosted one of the events and this was a wonderful opportunity for the business community to see what we have to offer.”
The Beyond programme has a strong network of over 380 individuals signed up to its website from over 330 businesses and a valuable network of experienced business mentors through its business mentoring programme.
The programme is delivered and part funded by Down District Council and part financed by Invest NI and the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.
For further information or to view the Beyond autumn business events programme visit www.beyondni.co.uk
or contact Rhonda McDowell or Michael Forster from the Beyond Team on 028 4461 0856 or email [email protected]