A small business group is going borough wide after successfully supporting local businesses during the pandemic.

The Chibolton and Wherwell small business group has launched the campaign, called #testvalleylocalbiz, to encourage local people to support the local, independent businesses that call the borough home, whether they are retailers, professional service companies or charities.

They are also asking small businesses to help promote them by using the hashtag in their social media posts, and following their campaign on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

The Chibolton and Wherwell small business group was formed by David Hall of Chilbolton and Susanne Hasselmann of Wherwell in March as the pandemic struck to offer personal and mutual business support for owners and managers in the two villages.

They organised regular Zoom calls between around 20 local businesses in the villages, where they discussed topics as wide as mental health and optimising website and social media content to promote their businesses. Last month, the group finally met in person, with a socially distanced meeting at a local pub.

In addition, they have been campaigning for support for local businesses and the self-employed from local and national government by writing letters to various politicians. They claim they have been successful in this, and able to “influence local decision makers, resulting, for example, in the inclusion of home businesses in the discretionary grants scheme offered by TVBC recently.”

One member of the group, Domini Hogg, founder of Tried and Supplied, said: “The Chilbolton and Wherwell small business group has provided both emotional support during lockdown as well as practical advice on grants, social media strategies and online services. Through it I was connected with an entrepreneurs support service that introduced me to a logistics consultant who has been very helpful in developing a core part of my business. It has been great to see so many people from such different professions coming together to support each other.”

Stefan Lipa, Director at Stefan Lipa Consultancy, added: “It has been great to know that there was mutual support from other local business owners going through the same difficult period.”

The group has asked interested members of the public and businesses to contact tvlb@scirum.co.uk to learn more.