An upcoming exhibition will showcase the fascinating story of a radical change in childcare.

Even today, many working parents struggle with high childcare costs and long waiting lists. And in the 1970s it was a struggle to find childcare for pre-school children at all. All that changed when a group of parents in Walthamstow decided to form the First Neighbourhood Co-operative Nursery.

The Doing it Ourselves – Imagining Better Childcare exhibition at The Mill Community Centre in Walthamstow will present a range of material documenting this in the form of oral history, photography, film and archive documents. There will also be discussions and workshops, inviting parents and children to contribute.

Eva Turner was a member of the First Neighbourhood Co-operative Nursery and was among the volunteers who recorded and wrote up interviews with people involved.

She said: “I was new to Walthamstow. The nursery meant that I found somewhere to fit in – and gave me and my children friends for life.

“I wanted to record the story of the First Neighbourhood Co-operative Nursery because it was an important part of the history of Walthamstow – particularly in terms of women who needed childcare in order to return to work, and weren’t in a position to pay lots of money for it. I felt it was a vital part of the history of families in the borough."

The exhibition has been put together by Doing it Ourselves, a volunteer project initiated by On the Record, a non-profit oral history collective, with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the London Borough of Waltham Forest and Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019.

The exhibition will run from today (Wednesday, July 23) to September 19 at the Mill Community Centre in Coppermill Lane, Walthamstow.

There will also be two events offering a range of activities.

Family Fun will take place on July 30 from 10am to 2.30pm, with free drop-in art activities for children and adults.

Creative Childcare, on September 14 from 1.30pm to 4.30pm, will feature activities and discussions on the subject of childcare, past and present.

All ages are welcome at the events.

If you are interested in the exhibition, you can learn more by visiting