Youth workers hit streets to remind pupils of 2m rule

A group of youth workers has taken to the streets of Alsager to remind Alsager pupils to practise social distancing.
The group was mobilised after residents raised concerns that teenagers were gathering in groups outside takeaways in the town centre.
Volunteers from local churches will continue to engage with students in the town centre twice a week as part of a new scheme launched in partnership with Alsager School.
It aims to get a sense of how students are coping under “unfamiliar” circumstances as well as to ensure that the distancing rules are being adhered to.
The initiative followed news of another confirmed case of covid-19 at Alsager School. On Sunday, the school asked all year 10 students to remain at home and self-isolate until next Wednesday (21st October) after a student in the year group tested positive.
Just last week, the Chronicle reported that a confirmed case in year 11 forced the year group into isolation. Year 11 pupils are due to return to school tomorrow (Friday).
Of the year groups still able to attend the school, pupils who choose to head into the town centre on their lunch break will be reminded of the rules by church volunteers.
The Rev Daran Ward, of Christ Church Alsager, said: “The main reason we wanted the youth workers to engage with students in the town is to let them know that we’re there for them, that we want to hear what their needs are and how they’re coping at this time, because there’s a lot of pressure on them.
“We’re doing it in partnership with Alsager School, but we wanted to do more detached youth work in the town anyway and this is a way for us to do that.”
Sam Parnell is one of the youth workers at Christ Church Alsager who has been out engaging with the students. He said: “With all the restrictions that have come into place and the impracticability of running a youth group at the minute, there was no way we could engage with young people without meeting them where they are.
“In the past, I worked for a charity called Youth for Christ in Warrington and had some success in engaging with young people outside of traditional youth groups.
“We mentioned it to Andrea O’Neill, the head of years seven to 11 at Alsager School, and she suggested that if we were going to do it, it would make sense to link it with the times that the students are in the town at lunch.
“We’ve only been out three times so far, so it’s early days, but the students have all been very respectful.”
In last week’s Chronicle we printed a letter from a resident who complained that students in the town were not observing social distancing. The man, who asked to remain anonymous, said that teenagers had been gathering outside takeaways at lunchtime and blocking doorways. He also claimed that some shops had allowed them in without wearing face coverings.
Youth worker Mr Parnell explained: “Social distancing for school groups is slightly complicated, because they’re in ‘year bubbles’. Some residents might not realise that the groups of students are a bubble within themselves.
“In the instances where we have seen some of the students forgetting the rules or not being distant enough from each other, they’re happy to do what they should be doing when reminded. They tend to be pretty good at policing themselves in terms of social distancing, but when we’re having conversations with them, we do remind them to keep an eye on it.
“From what we’ve seen, the kids are adapting fairly well but are finding school quite strange at the moment. They’re in a familiar environment, but in a very unfamiliar way. They definitely appreciate what the school is doing and they recognise that the staff have gone to a lot of effort to make it comfortable and safe, but it still feels very strange.
“The students are enjoying seeing their friends again and are happy to be able to socialise but are aware that things can change at the drop of a hat. Already there have been incidents where cases of covid-19 have meant that whole year groups have had to isolate at home.”