A YORK charity which has carried out environmental and other projects in India has now taken on a scheme in York to help people with mental health problems.

The John Lally International Foundation is involved in creating a garden for The Hut in Wigginton Road, which provides activities and support for people with mental health issues and/or learning disabilities.

Spokesman Gordon Campbell-Thomas, who said the garden would be completed this year, said the foundation was founded in memory of John Lally, a York man well known for his environmental work who died in 1995, and it runs a charity shop in The Groves called It’s Donated.

He said the first attempt by John's friends to remember him came at the wake after his funeral, when someone suggested a tree should be planted for him.

"That idea grew and in the end over 5,000 trees were planted at St Nicholas Fields nature reserve, creating the John Lally Community Wood covering over 4.5 acres," he said.

Gordon said that in 2003, as the then coordinator of St Nicholas Fields, he proposed the formation of a new charity to carry on the type of work that had transformed St Nicks from a disused rubbish dump to a local nature reserve, but on the international stage, and so the foundation was set up.

"The original focus was to transform an existing rubbish tip in Goa, India. However, despite gaining £10,000 from the National Lottery to do a feasibility report, vested interests in the state of Goa were not interested in achieving any movement on the status quo," he said.

He said he decided to move to the north eastern city of Kolkata (Calcutta) in West Bengal to try again and, teaming up with an Indian NGO, the focus turned to the climate change threatened area of the Sundarbans on the Bay of Bengal.

"Gaining funding from the Lush cosmetics company the John Lally Foundation helped turn a single storied basic school into a two storied school and community centre," he said.

"In addition JLIF bought sewing machines to help women develop their handicraft business.

He said it opened a charity shop in Lowther Street in the Groves area in 2013, and it had gone from strength to strength acting on behalf of the Groves community.

"In 2016 a petition started by the staff of the charity shop brought about a complete alcohol ban on the streets of the Groves. The success of that petition has improved the lives of residents in area.

" Added to that there was another community petition that called on the city council to provide some kind of pedestrian crossing in the vicinity of Park Grove School, this is under review by council officers."

He added that after the 'community enabling' garden was completed, the trust would consider where next to focus its efforts.

"All that is certain is the dedication of the volunteers that form the core group of JLIF members, which include the current shop manager Bron Stott and the others who contribute their time and hard work without pay."