Friends of the Earth and The Co-operative Bank join forces to transform over 1,000 nature-deprived spaces across the country

31 May 2023

3 min read

  • Research shows a staggering 1.5 million children under the age of 12 live in areas with limited access to nature
  • People of colour are also disproportionately impacted by nature loss, and are nearly three times more likely to live in areas with few green or wild spaces
  • Over the next three years, The Co-operative Bank will fund and scale up Friends of the Earth’s ‘Postcode Gardeners’ programme, embedding community gardeners in some of the country’s most nature-deprived neighbourhoods

Friends of the Earth and The Co-operative Bank are joining forces to bring back nature to over 1,000 spaces deprived of wildlife and greenery across the country.

The transformative new partnership will help to breathe life back into local neighbourhoods, supporting both wildlife and communities to thrive, by enhancing and building on the valuable work of Friends of the Earth’s pioneering ‘Postcode Gardeners’ programme.

The Postcode Gardeners project seeks to increase access to the health and wellbeing benefits that nature can offer. The initiative matches professional gardeners with communities to support people to connect with each other and transform where they live by sowing wildflowers, creating wildlife corridors, planting vegetables and bringing nature back to neglected public areas.

While many people want to live on streets thriving with plants and wildlife, they need help to make it happen. Supported by Friends of the Earth and The Co-operative Bank, Postcode Gardeners will work street-by-street to green neighbourhoods and bring communities together.

Research from Friends of the Earth shows that one in five people in England live in nature-deprived areas, including a staggering 1.5 million children under the age of 12. Moreover, people of colour are disproportionately affected by nature loss, and are nearly three times more likely to live in areas with limited access to green or wild spaces.

By bringing communities closer to nature, it’s hoped the partnership will unlock the many benefits of greener neighbourhoods, such as improving mental health and wellbeing, reducing air pollution and helping to protect communities from the impacts of climate change. Research shows that street trees are particularly effective in helping to cool and shade urban areas that are most susceptible to increasingly hotter temperatures.

Following the success of pilot projects in Hackney and Bideford, the partnership hopes to embed more Postcode Gardeners in communities starting this autumn.

Commenting on the partnership launch, Nick Slape, Chief Executive Officer at The Co-operative Bank, said:

“I’m excited to launch this partnership today. Protecting the environment and restoring nature is a cause that is at the heart of our customer-led Ethical Policy, and biodiversity loss is one of our customers’ biggest priorities.

“We’re committed to taking steps to reverse the decline in biodiversity, and with the support of our colleagues and customers, Friends of the Earth will co-create some truly resilient, thriving and healthy neighbourhoods. Over the next three years, this partnership will create meaningful change in society and greatly benefit local communities across the country.”

Miriam Turner, Co-Executive Director at Friends of the Earth, said:

“We couldn’t be more delighted that The Co-operative Bank has chosen to partner with us on our Postcode Gardeners project. These neighbourhood-level projects have the potential to make a profound difference to people living in some of the most nature-deprived communities in the UK.

“Thanks to The Co-operative Bank’s commitment to this work we’ll be able to restore nature in over 1,000 spaces in urban areas.

“As well as supporting plants and wildlife to flourish, Postcode Gardeners are reconnecting local communities and improving people’s health and wellbeing. We look forward to working in close partnership with The Co-operative Bank over the next three years to sow the seeds, quite literally, that will enable communities to live in harmony with a thriving natural world.”


For more information and interview requests, please contact:

Friends of the Earth press office
020 7566 1649

The Co-operative Bank press office
07734 002 983

Notes to editors

Friends of the Earth has identified the areas that are most deprived of green space in England, using a rating system at a large neighbourhood level (MSOA) taking into account public green space, average garden size, and open access land. Neighbourhoods rated E - those most deprived - are home to more than 1.5 million children under the age of 12. More detail on the methodology is available in the group’s Green Space Gap report and a map is available on the Friends of the Earth website.

To learn more about the Postcode Gardeners project please visit the Friends of the Earth Website.

About Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth is an international community dedicated to the protection of the natural world and the wellbeing of everyone in it. We bring together more than two million people in 75 countries, combining people power all over the world to transform local actions into global impact.

For more information visit: follow us at @friends_earth, or like our Facebook page. Save paper and send an e-card today, available at

About The Co-operative Bank

The Co-operative Bank plc provides a full range of banking products and services to retail and SME (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) customers and is committed to values and ethics in line with the principles of the co-operative movement.

The Co-operative Bank is the only high street bank with a customer-led Ethical Policy which gives customers a say in how their money is used. Launched in 1992, the Policy has been updated on six occasions, with new commitments added in June 2022 to cover how the bank operates its business, products and services, workplace and culture, relationships with suppliers and other stakeholders and the issues it supports and campaigns on.


The Co-operative Bank Press Office

Landline: 0151 271 1985

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