In Birmingham, minority ethnic communities form a quarter of the population, but there is a long way to go before staff mix across health and other services will reflect that diversity. In Sparkbrook, local people with some part time training were raising awareness about health issues in their communities as 'lay health advisers'. However, they worked as volunteers and opportunities for their further training and employment were lacking. Social support is concerned with the practical and emotional components of caring, advice, information and help rather than 'clinical care'. Birmingham Health Authority provided the momentum for the partnership and supported part of community parent salaries. Traditional boundaries needed to be challenged to create the funding opportunity. The women were supported financially during training in recognition of the skills they already had and their potential contribution in the future.