National UK Community
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is very active at national level, providing advice to Government and a host of other bodies on biodiversity and conservation issues. We are responsible for holding, developing, maintaining and studying the collections of preserved and living plants, and sharing our knowledge as widely as possible.
The Kew Herbarium collection of 7.5 million plants continues to grow, and is more accessible than ever through the ambitious programme of electronic databases. In the Gardens, the living collections make TW9 the most plant diverse postcode in the world! The organisational mission means that the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is today participating in a larger number of partnership projects than ever before, and simultaneously reaching out to schools and family audiences throughout the country.
In addition to formal and informal projects, advisory roles and partnerships with organisations throughout the UK, senior staff at Kew sit on a variety of committees and boards that help to preserve and study Britain's botanical inheritance, many of which are undertaken outside paid hours. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew can bring extraordinary resources to bear on issues of biodiversity and threatened habitat. For example, our British orchid samples go back 300 years - a vital basis of knowledge for conservation of threatened species.
Despite the fact that the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a charity constantly in search of funds on its own behalf, the Gardens are sometimes made available for fundraising events with other charities. Kew's staff, collectively and as individuals, are active in supporting such events as well as smaller charitable initiatives. Among the national charities to have received support are: Children in Need, Refuge, Breast Cancer Care, the Shooting Star Hospice, the Tsunami Appeal, Save the Children, Cancer Research UK, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Age Concern, and many more.
One weekend every year, Kew throws open its gates to the South-East's diverse population in an event called Diaspora. Young and middle-aged, families and single people from a broad array of different cultures come to Kew to enjoy a free concert of World Music. We also organise events that aim to attract communities from less affluent parts of Greater London. People with disabilities are very welcome to visit the Gardens, and over the past few years we have carried out various audits and modifications to make our site more accommodating to their needs. The Discovery Bus, designed for wheelchair use, takes groups of the elderly and less able for free pre-booked tours around the Gardens, and in the winter months we provide an outreach service which consists of illustrated talks about Kew Gardens for residents in local care homes who are not able to visit. There are free wheelchairs available at every gate, and two mobility scooters, plus other services for people with sight and hearing difficulties.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew conforms in spirit and to the letter of the law on freedom of information. Our website offers a great deal of information, and our visitor information team deal with public inquiries promptly. We have worked hard to ensure that our Annual Report is clear and easily understood, and available in printed and online formats. The Jodrell Laboratory, Herbarium, and Lower Nursery all hold open days for the public to visit and see some of the behind-the-scenes activity, and we have recently introduced an annual open evening for science displays and for the public to meet staff.
Some national organisations that Kew Gardens has helped
- The Salvation Army
- Age Concern
- Muscular Dystrophy Association
- Cancer Research UK
- Marie Cancer Care
- British Trust for Conservation Volunteers
- Save the Children
- Children in Need
- The Tsunami Appeal Fund
- Great Ormond St. Hospital
- Tommy's Campaign
- Yarrow Housing Trust
- Spinal Research
- Young Scientists of the Year
- Breast Cancer Campaign
- Peabody Trust
- Wellcome Trust
- Children's Society
- Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme
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