Like everyone else in the world, those of us at the SLBI suddenly had to make big changes to our lives and work in March this year, due to Covid-19. As a small, independent organisation, we were lucky to be able to be adapt quite quickly and flexibly. Our current grants have meant that we’ve been able to keep all of our four part-time staff employed, all working from home, though like many other small organisations, we’re concerned about the long-term impact of the crisis on our income. We continue to be grateful to all of our supporters and hope that you can help us celebrate our 110th birthday this year!
Those of you receiving our monthly e-newsletter will be aware that since we closed the physical doors of the Institute, we’ve moved some of our activities online. We’ve held two evening talks so far, both of which have proved popular. Catherine Cowling started us off with Medicinal Herbs, followed by Roy Vickery with Plant Folklore (who is also doing a sterling job of putting a ‘Plant of the Day’ on Facebook). We look forward to Bats, Container Food Growing, Forensic Botany and more in the coming weeks. All of these can be booked via our Events page.
As our school visits have had to stop, Sarah Webley has been busy developing resources for parents to use with their children at home. These are all linked to specific ages and topics of the National Curriculum, as with our normal school visits, and are available on the Schools & Families page.
Sarah Davey has started going into the garden, in isolation, to keep on top of essential maintenance, and has also managed to put two garden tours online, which people have said are ‘a joy’. The garden is at its best at this time of year, so it felt such a shame not to be able to share it with as many people as possible.
Of course, none of this is the same as being able to visit the Institute in person, for workshops, plant sales or just a walk and a chat in the garden. We’re all frustrated at how long we are having to stay closed. We are, however, monitoring the situation very closely and a ‘crisis group’ from the staff and Board of Trustees discusses it regularly. We are developing a comprehensive ‘Re-opening Risk Register & Plan’, taking guidance from official sources and other organisations similar to ourselves. We want to be completely confident that everyone working and visiting the Institute will be safe when we re-open.
Until then, our best wishes – please stay safe and enjoy nature wherever you can.