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Changes at partnership following covid impact

Alsager Partnership has mapped out its plans for the year ahead in the face of covid and a funding cut.

The organisation responsible for helping to stage the annual Christmas Markets event, which in 2019 attracted at least 10,000 people to the town centre, as well as the popular Italian festival each September, is having to look to the next 12 months without events that involve crowds.

During its annual meeting at the end of January, the partnership announced its new way of working.
John Poulson also stepped down as chair to be replaced by Arthur Harding. Mr Poulson has taken on the role of treasurer.

The partnership is reorganising because of the pandemic’s impacts on its projects and events and a reduction by half in the funding it has received from Alsager Town Council for the next financial year.

As a result, its office, which was based within Sash hairdresser’s premises on Sandbach Road South, has had to close.
With no way of planning for crowd events without knowing how social distancing restrictions will be eased as the year goes on, the partnership will be concentrating on four key elements: health and well being, youth forum, business forum and social media/web updates.

Mr Poulson said: “It’s a difficult time. We are trying to plan ahead but scaling everything back so we can see what we can do in the coming year, but it won’t be to the same degree as we would normally.

“It’s a case of cutting the cloth to fit the funding so we can get on during the next 12 months in the face of covid.

“Nothing from a crowd gathering point of view is going to happen this year. The events we are normally involved with we cannot do, such as the Christmas markets and fairgrounds rides during the Christmas lights switch-on. The event in 2019 attracted 10,000 into the town centre but there is no way we are going back to that.

“Five thousand people usually attended the Italian festival each September on the Civic green with up to 300 people taking part in the Easter bunny hunt around Alsager.”

Other successes have been Alsager Dementia Friends group, which helps 3,000 people who have benefited from its memory cafes.

Mr Poulson said: “Some of this has been able to continue during the lockdowns thanks to Zoom meetings but it’s not the same. People who are isolated cannot go out or don’t have the technology to take part.

“It’s difficult to raise funds at the moment. Alsager Round Table did a great job of Santa’s sleigh tour around the town in the run up to Christmas.

“The partnership organises a fundraising concert for those with dementia every year but we’ve not been able to do it this time.

“We always aim to reach £6,000 in fundraising each year but that has gone to zero. It’s been a battle all year to see what we can do.”

Despite the pandemic the partnership did organise a virtual Italian festival in September and an online Christmas celebration for the community.

There has always had a strong emphasis on health and well being and the partnership said this will continue through its dementia working group to engage with those living with dementia and their carers as well as keeping in touch with other organisations to obtain information/advice as well as sharing good practice.

“Youth friendly Alsager” is the theme of the partnership’s youth forum and the aim is to engage with youngsters of all ages but particularly the town’s youth.

The partnership plans to find ways of engaging with the town’s business community to explore opportunities that will benefit businesses as well as benefiting Alsager and the work the partnership does.

Kath Reader retains her position as partnership vice-chair and lead for the dementia project while Shay Norman continues to chair the youth forum.

Lou Davis will manage the web and social media outlets.
Alsager Partnership is always looking for more team members, anyone interested should email via its website alsagerpartnership.com

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