THE THREE day volunteering project, York Cares Big Community Challenge, came to an end with a green-fingered theme.

The challenge involved people from local businesses coming together to help make a difference to the local area.

Helen Illman, programme co-ordinator at York Cares, thanked and praised the helpers for all their support.

"Come rain or shine they've come been willing to get stuck into any job and get their hands dirty for good causes," she said.

"It's a great reflection of York employers that 150 staff can be released to help in their local communities and hopefully the staff have enjoyed their time out of the office, tackling something different as a team."

ADVA Optical Engineering battled the morning rain to help make new woodland paths and create a wildflower meadow at West Bank Park in Acomb. They were joined by staff from Benenden Health, Northern Rail and City of York Council.

The end of the challenge came with volunteers from FERA (Food and Environment Research Agency), Yorkshire Bank, University of York and TSP helping to create a new stile and lay bark chip paths at Rowntree Park.

The three days were roughly themed. Day one was about helping out at schools, day two involved working at dementia care homes, and day three's theme was parks and green spaces.

Patrick King, from Omnicom Engineering, helped to transform a garden at Morrell House dementia care home, and said: "Our company is based in Clifton and I used to live locally to Morrell House, but I never knew this place existed so it has been really good for me to appreciate what is around me and hopefully we've made a difference, even if by just a small amount."

Tesco staff from the Askham Bar store worked at Windsor House, painting benches and planters, and also brought refreshments and spent time with the residents.

The store have invested in training for staff so they can become more aware of customers with dementia, so the volunteers enjoyed meeting the residents and helping to improve their environment.