Environment

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000

Description

The Devonshire Road Nature Reserve in Forest Hill is a big inner-city reserve; about 6 acres. The site has a large community garden, visitors centre, bees, small performance space, mature woodland, meadows. A hardworking Friends group turned the site from derelict into an important area for natural conservation and bio-diversity.
The site has been awarded the Green Pennant for the last 8 years. Our events are loved by the local community and beyond. Open Days attract 300 people. Our all-day music event ‘Festival in The Forest’ draws an intergenerational crowd of about 600. Local volunteers do all the work. Nothing happens without volunteers here.
Our on-site ‘visitor centre’ is known as the ‘Hut’ and is actually a 70’s, temporary classroom, 35ft square. The Hut is where the loo is, where tea is drunk, ecology is taught. The Hut is where sessions for local schools, pre-schoolers, and nursery children fill the Hut to bursting most days. Displays of wildlife happen, natural crafts are learnt here. We make bat boxes here. Forest School teachers store stuff here. We carve pumpkins in the Hut for Halloween and smash apples for juice hic! on apple day. Local naturalists give talks here. A yoga class stretches here. Community groups meet in the hut. Artists display eco’ work. Goldsmiths Uni holds a drawing class here. The Hut is popular for kid’s birthday parties. The festival takes over the Hut.
The Hut is where everyone runs to when it rains. Where everyone gets stuck because the door jams. Where the water won’t drain down the tiny sink. Where you can see through the floor to the ground below. The Hut is where that patch is more gaffer tape than lino, and that patch is a hazard. The Hut is where only the hardcore can face it in the winter. The Hut is in the dusk of its life and Oh lordy, what will we do without it?
Without the Hut everything has to stop.
Our project ‘Raise the Hut’ aims to build a new visitor / education centre. A sustainable, low energy timber building that can be partly constructed by volunteers. The new super Hut will be used to support and expand the Nature Reserves activities and events.
The design is intensely practical and inclusive. It will accommodate 2 classes of children. The buildings renewable energy aspects will be a teaching tool. It can function as a performance space, or a workshop. It is a perfectly flexible space for multi community use.
We need help and financial support. We need permissions and surveys to get through planning and up to the point of tendering. The Aviva money would be used to get our design to the point where we are ready to tender for the works. This will cost approx £25,000
Vote ‘Raise the Hut’ so we can carry on. So, our densely populated urban communities can learn about nature here.
Tilly is 8 and lives in flats opposite. She held up a conker and said, what’s this?
It's a conker Tilly. It comes from a tree.
Vote for us because the new generation of children sometimes have so little understanding of the natural world and yet they are the ones that will have to sort out our biggest environmental problems.
The reserve is not a park. A volunteer saw the sparrow hawk kill a bird right in front of him and dropped his tea!
Locals build a relationship with the reserve over a life time. Preschoolers get muddy here, teenagers, students and adults volunteer and study here. We can be more inclusive with disabled access; do more for pensioners when the heating works.
Vote for us because you will help create a destination building that can act as a node on a network of ecological expertise. Where people can experience more nature and human nature. Where community ownership can truly exist, and social cohesion can flourish. The activity of building the centre will itself bring the community together as a barn raising event. Vote for us and you can help us Raise the Hut!

Devonshire Road Nature Reserve

The energy, generosity and imagination of volunteers creating something of real and lasting value to the whole local community. The diversity within our community and the variety of different species are all considered and catered for. People and wildlife flourish here.

Location: 140 Devonshire Road, London SE23 3SX, UK