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Anyone who cares about Birmingham knows that things are looking fairly grim right now. The council's in crisis, homelessness is on the up, child poverty is rising, families are hungry, our cultural venues are under threat, our Government is largely awol and more people feel utterly disconnected. That's not the whole story of course - we still have much to celebrate and many reasons for hope of better times ahead.

But a critical year is here for our city and our country, with a General Election on the horizon, imminent mayoral, policing and local elections, big decisions and livelihoods on the line. Residents who love this city want information they can trust in, that will help them see the bigger picture, before deciding what to do about it.

You are likely one of them - and my guess is you crave the facts, based on data and evidence, told through the stories of people affected. You might already be actively engaged in trying to improve your street, neighbourhood or the city, or you are looking for a reason to get up and become a do-er, not a moaner.


READ MORE: 33 Birmingham councillors 'own additional homes they rent out' in the city

But it's noisy out there, and there are so many vested interests, bloggers, political parties and activists vying for your precious, limited time. With that in mind, it no doubt seems counterintuitive that I'm here launching a new, exclusive newsletter into the blogosphere. As good old Brenda might have put it: 'You're joking - not another one!'

But hear me out. I currently lead on BirminghamLive's coverage of political affairs, though not in the traditional role of a political editor. My brief is to focus on the people who end up on the receiving end of the decisions of politicians.

It's in this role that I've written exclusive stories about shocking housing conditions, our dire record on poverty, road safety concerns, life in our hospitals or the impact of Birmingham City Council ’s recent travails. Many of my articles are picked up by national media and broadcasters, or are linked to on social media. Other outlets piggyback off exclusive or insightful content created by me and colleagues, sometimes while simultaneously criticising the output of local media, without irony.

Inside Birmingham with Jane Haynes will land in your inbox once a week, with additional specials through periods of high drama and elections. It will supplement the work I do elsewhere, not mimic it. It will dive into issues more thoroughly than a rapidly moving news agenda can allow, with content that is exclusive and published here first.

You can sign up right now for free and give me time to tease your expectations. But to access in full you are going to have to spend a little bit of cash. If you have already signed up for a paid subscription, thank you so much.

Subscribe now for a special discounted introductory deal

I believe strongly that local media only works and fulfils its brief to inform, inspire, educate and entertain when it is available to and accessible by as many people as possible. That’s why I write for the biggest reaching and best read media organisation in the city, with a proud history of campaigning and investigations.

But to stay free to all, our model currently relies on the support of advertisers, and that makes for a constant juggling act. We want to give readers the best user experience while also satisfying the needs of the businesses that allow us to give our work away for free.

But the presence of online ads and pop-ups, especially on your phones, can be annoying. Inside Birmingham with Jane Haynes will give you a weekly dose of informed, ad-free content in a great format that you can save, read at your leisure, share with friends and converse about.

When read alongside the free content created elsewhere by me and my colleagues, I believe this will help keep you better informed, engaged and connected about Birmingham. It's also for you to shape - share your questions, and press me to investigate what is currently under reported, misunderstood or hidden. Drop me an email at jane.haynes@reachplc.com

Thanks so very much for your interest and support.