The South London Botanical Institute (SLBI) has been awarded £86,500 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to improve their future sustainability. The Institute, based in Tulse Hill, has received the grant for a much-needed project, ‘Botanical Education: Sustainable and Thriving (BEST)’. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the grant will enable the Institute to increase its fundraising activity and trial new methods of bringing in income, so that it can continue its important range of plant-related educational work into the future. The project will start soon and continue for 18 months.

The SLBI was founded in 1910 by Allan Octavian Hume, a dedicated social reformer, with the aim of bringing botany to the working people of south London. This aim continues today, with people from local communities and further afield able to explore the plant world, enjoy the botanic garden, library and herbarium and participate in a wide range of educational activities for all ages and levels of ability.

The new grant will build on the successful activities of two recent projects funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, during which the SLBI refurbished its lecture room and historic herbarium, developed a new website, introduced digital interpretation and welcomed a wide range of visitors to its events - including many school children. The new project will help to ensure that these activities and resources can be maintained into the future, through increasing and diversifying the Institute’s sources of income. Until now, the Institute has relied very much on grants and on a number of committed individual members, but it now recognises the need to diversify its income - from general donations, legacies, merchandise etc. The grant will also support the SLBI’s trustees in their general good governance, and will allow new opportunities for volunteering.

The SLBI is open to the public for free on Thursdays 10am-4pm, for frequent and varied events and activities and by appointment (subject to volunteer availability). It runs a wide-ranging botanical and environmental programme of educational and social activities for many ages and levels of knowledge. SLBI collections are used for research and in the online Herbaria@Home. SLBI and its collections help understanding about botanical collecting and how botanical discoveries fuelled developments in medicine and agriculture.