During Sydney’s COVID-19 lockdown, Annette Tolhurst was waiting for a coffee at Little Evie café in Redfern, and noticed that the business had begun operating both as a coffee shop and a grocery store.

With Little Evie’s business changes largely unknown, Tolhurst decided to create a page for local businesses to post updates to their community members.

Waiting for that coffee was the catalyst for her to start the Keep Your Local Alive campaign in April.

“I thought that’s such a great idea, but how is everyone going to know? Everyone is still at home, working from home, and so I thought, how can I help them?” says Tolhurst.

The group is a place for local Redfern, Surry Hills and Waterloo businesses to post updates about their business and encourage local residents to recommend and support local businesses to their community.

“I thought, what’s going to happen if these businesses go out of business? And I looked at this community and I thought, what would it be like here if all these shops didn’t exist… It just wouldn’t be the same, it’s a part of why you live here.” says Tolhurst.

Annette has been living in Redfern for almost seven years, and has embedded herself in the area culture.

Well known from her involvement in the Bourke St Public School community, as well as being a friendly face around the neighbourhood and at local businesses, Tolhurst both preaches and practices the importance of loving and supporting community.

The page was originally shared through a Bourke St Public School community group, Darlo Darlings and a Waterloo and Zetland Business Facebook group.

“That’s how I got the core membership, and then all those people obviously told people about it, and then people would join and join and join.”

Between April 1st and May 1st the group grew from 4 members to 506. Currently Keep Your Local Alive has over 750 participants.

In less than a month 25% of voters in the groups poll mentioned that they had purchased a product or service because they had heard about it through the page. Many voters commenting that they had done this multiple times.

“I found that Redfern was very real, everyone is just who they are,” says Tolhurst.

“Its very community based, very friendly, everyone helps each other. I think that one of the key things is that the local businesses are such a part of why you live in a place like this.”

Get involved on Facebook here.