The founder of a Facebook group designed to help businesses in the region connect with new customers says she’s “been blown away” by how popular it has become.

Chrissie Havis created the Northumberland - Let’s keep supporting local businesses! page in October last year and has seen the page accumulate nearly 19,000 members at time of writing.

“I thought of the idea after hearing a mother at my daughter’s school asking if anyone knew where to get any local chocolate for a present,” explained Chrissie.

“She couldn’t think of anywhere apart from the local ‘big’ places, so that made me realise maybe a lot of people around the area had this kind of problem too, especially right now during the pandemic.

“So therefore I went home and set the page up and I can’t believe how fast it’s taken off. It’s grown into a real little community.”

The page had been designed as only being around until Christmas 2020 to help potential customers source locally produced products, but Chrissie went on to add that the group has become far more than seasonal.

“It’s just kept growing,” she added.

“At first, obviously I was really surprised by the number of people who wanted to join, but now I’ve decided just to keep going with it and see what happens.

“Something I’ve made clear throughout the whole time it’s been live is that it’s not just a business directory. Two way communication between the business and the customers are key.”

Chrissie, who doesn’t get any financial benefit from the group despite running it herself, has also now created a series of other pages to help businesses in other regions following the success of the Northumberland site.

“With this first one, I’m from Northumberland so it made sense for me to stay as the admin, but with the other pages I’ve set up, I’ve been helping other people from there to learn what to do and eventually let them run the pages themselves.”