Feelings of loss, fear of change

20th February 1998 at 00:00
Elizabeth Manuel, John Street's catering manageress, faces having to move her daughter to a different school and the loss of her job in an area where a third of the adult population are unemployed. She also worries that she will lose the two-bedroom flat she shares with 13-year-old Claire.

A catering colleague with 22 years service was offered just pound;6,000 severance, she says. Mrs Manuel has just eight years' employment behind her.

Claire will not be going to Whitehill Secondary, the destiny of some John Street pupils.

Schoolgirl Diane Watson was fatally stabbed in the playground there seven years ago and Mrs Manuel fears a similar incident could occur. "I'm worried there will be problems in the playground when new kids arrive."

At the very least, children used to a school which is two-thirds empty will feel lost in whichever of the three designated schools becomes their new home, says Mrs Manuel. In John Street the headteacher knows every single child by name.

"It's very demoralising for all the community in Bridgeton. This is the centre of life in here. At Christmas children take food parcels to old folk and put on concerts for them. Without the school, people might ask what is the point in living here."

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