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New Community Connectors drive Early Help programme

Rachel Perks and Hannah Watson are our two new Community Connectors part of a team spearheading the Early Help programme in Erdington. Part of a city-wide initiative, this project will deliver a directory of all services available to support young people (0-25 years) and families in the borough.

Although Rachel and Hannah are responsible for Erdington, the new Early Help programme spans all 10 Birmingham localities.

The roles were due to originally start in April 2021, but have been brought forward because of the pandemic, and the growing number of families that need support, especially those that  are living pay cheque to pay cheque and are in danger of food & fuel poverty and increased depression and anxiety.

Erdington dweller Rachel has worked in the voluntary sector for most of her career, while Hannah is looking to build a career supporting children and young families. Birmingham Children’s Partnership has funded the two new roles, and Rachel and Hannah were selected as dynamic and energetic communicators, capable of engaging with key stakeholder organisations as well as vulnerable individuals.

Reporting into the charitable subsidiary of The Pioneer Group, Compass Support, they are currently mapping all voluntary and community organisations across health, education, vocational training and social care within the Erdington borough.

Rachel Perks, Community Connector, commented:

We are taking the first steps to ensuring that families have access to all available help in their neighbourhoods. As we reach out to members of the community, from schools to faith groups, GP practices and more, we are getting a better picture of what families are struggling with and which support is available within the communities that we serve.

Hannah is reaching out to community organisations in Castle Vale, Pipe Hayes and Erdington, while Rachel is covering Perry Common, Gravelly Hill, Kingstanding and Stockland Green.

Hannah Watson, Community Connector, said:

We are discovering that many teams working across the public and voluntary sectors are unaware of all the support available. Our role is to change this situation, and make sure all families can connect to support and relevant activities as part of early help support. We also run a monthly partnership meeting to connect organisations together.

The long-term aim of the project is to build resilience and confidence within our families. While existing organisations are doing a phenomenal job to support our young people and families, we want to ensure that support is accessed as early as possible, so that any issues are recognised and managed quickly.

As well as building a directory of services, connecting professionals to each other, and increasing awareness of what support is out there for the families – the Community Connectors are also looking to identify gaps in community provision.

The Early Help directory will become publicly available to all community and public sector services.

Families and services can contact us on 0121 748 8199 or visit for more information and our online Family Connect Form.