2018 - 2019

Doing it Ourselves

In the 1970s working parents struggled to find places in nurseries for their children. Today’s parents face a different set of challenges, not least the struggle to afford the cost of childcare. At Walthamstow’s First Neighbourhood Co-operative Nursery parents could work at the nursery in exchange for a reduced fee. Parent – members worked together to run the organisation and employ its staff.  The nursery became an important feature of the local community, helping working parents with affordable childcare, while involving them in the education of their children and creating deep, lifelong friendships.

On the Record recorded the history of this unique parent-led co-operative nursery and drop-in. Doing It Ourselves was involved a committed group of volunteers, and was led by an ex-member of the nursery and local parent, Eva Turner, supported by Rosa Schling from On the Record. Local sixth-form photography students contributed photography and created risograph prints for the exhibition. It culminated in an exhibition and series of interactive pre-school workshops held at local community centre The Mill, a podcast and a permanent oral history and photographic archive at Bishopsgate Library.

Doing it Ourselves won the Women's History Network Community Prize in 2020.

Kindly supported by: National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to the contributions of National Lottery players, and the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

Listen to the podcast here

Discover the exhibition here

 “I thought the co-op was a brilliant idea. The parents could be there, there was support for the parents. The parents themselves were the teachers, they knew what was best for their children so their ideas were coming into it and they were passing that on to other parents. The children were learning from each other, there were different age groups mingling together and different ethnic groups too.” Saroj Tailor, staff member and parent