'March of the Mummies': Hundreds take to the streets in Bristol demanding better childcare

  • Watch Richard Payne's report

Around two thousand people marched through Bristol to demand better childcare provision for parents.

The protest, called the 'March of the Mummies', was one of 11 organised up and down the country.

Those taking part want the government to reform the sector after concerns soaring childcare costs are leaving many parents unable to work.

Many with first time protesters, some too young to realise the significance of the day, highlighted what they claim is a childcare crisis.

Co-organiser of the Bristol march, Mhairi Threlfall, says she pays about £1,200 a month for four days a week childcare.

She said: "We're a professional couple but we cannot afford for me to work five days a week.

"Childminders have been leaving the industry, nurseries have been closing down, so you're looking at 18 months waiting lists.

"It's a really dire situation for childcare in the region right now."

Protesters said parents are being penalised for wanting to work Credit: ITV News

Halloween costumes were encouraged to emphasis what critics see as the government's frightening lack of policy to encourage mainly mothers back to work.

"I returned to work this week just gone," explains mother Sarah-Jane Kinley.

She added: "We don't have childcare because our local nursery closed as they don't have enough staff in the early years provision.

"We're on a waiting list and we've got childcare in January but there is a real lack of high quality childcare for us."

"Women are paying the motherhood penalty to work, " added Emma Philo.

She said:"The government need to listen and think about 50 per cent of the workforce who are being cheated out of being able to progress in their careers, get to positions of leadership."

Organisers, Pregnant Then Screwed, rallied thousands of people across the country to demand good quality affordable childcare, more flexible working and enhanced parental leave.

One mother, Rosie Harbour, explained: "I've just received a promotion in my job which means going up another day a week, which has meant getting another day of childcare.

"That's been a real struggle, so again we're scrabbling around week by week hodge-podging some childcare together."

In response, the Department for Education said it is exploring a wide range of options to improve the cost, choice and availability of childcare for working parents, adding: "We have spent more than £20 billion over the past five years to support families with the cost of childcare and are investing millions in better training for staff working with pre-school children.

"We have set out plans to help providers run their businesses more flexibly, as well as providing further support for non-domestic energy users, including early years providers, with their energy costs.”