Jessica Gray is the Chamber Development Executive for Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade and represents the organisation on the Newry, Mourne and Down Intercultural Forum.

Here, she describes the role of the forum in supporting businesses to meet the needs of ethnic communities.
Newry Chamber is the leading voice of business in the Greater Newry area, representing more than 200 business members, from retail to manufacturing and hospitality to financial services.

We aim to promote the greater Newry area as a premier destination for retail, tourism, investment, entrepreneurship and employment and as a happy, healthy place to live and work.

We provide our members with advice and support to help grow their business. Two key aspects involved in growing a business are creating welcoming workplaces for employees and developing services that meet the needs of customers.

Addressing skills shortages is essential to fill the gaps left by changing demographics. Equal progression and participation from all sections of the community can grow the talent pool and innovation thrives in organisations that better reflect their customer base and the wider society.

Most importantly, diversity and inclusion generate social value among which enables organisations to deliver positive outcomes which surpass the financial benefits while improving the bottom line.

Having recently joined the Newry, Mourne and Down’s Intercultural Forum, it has been a valuable resource for information sharing and a great example of partnership working.
Over the past year, the forum has provided a wealth of information in relation to the EU Settlement Scheme which allows EU citizens and their families to remain in the UK after it leaves the EU. The forum shared public health guidance in relation to Covid-19. The information was provided in multiple translations which we included in our business update to members so they could share the information with their employees.

Information sharing is a two-way process, and I was able to feed some of the concerns raised in the forum about the impact of the EUSS to Board members and stakeholders. The issues and concerns raised in the forum were included in our lobbying engagements with political representatives on a local and national level.

An inclusive business community is one that recognises the contribution that diversity makes to employees, customers and their families. Many of our members are looking how they can increase diversity in the workplace through training and development initiatives such as the diversity charter. I hope to feed back into the forum as progress is being made to create inclusive workplaces and what the impact of this is.

Through the forum, I want to signpost businesses to credible advice and information to help them identify the needs of those individuals from ethnic minorities who they employ and who use their services.
My role on the forum helps Newry Chamber to ensure we are supporting businesses to provide a better service to individuals from all communities.


Jessica Gray – Newry Chamber of Commerce