Refugees who found shelter in Bradford will say thank you to the city during upcoming event

Refugees who found shelter in Bradford will say thank you to the city during upcoming event

Benjamin Ayesu, founder of the 'Thank U Bradford' project (right), with Reverend Stephen Treasure of the All Saint's Church in Little Horton, and the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Bradford.

Members of the 'Thank U Bradford' project at one of their weekly meetings at the Park Lane Centre in Little Horton.

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

REFUGEES and asylum seekers who have found shelter in Bradford will do their bit to clean up the city at the launch of a new project on Saturday.

Up to 100 people are set to embark on a mass litter-pick on Manchester Road to mark the start of 'Thank U Bradford', an initiative that could see volunteers support a number of community projects across the district.

The group behind the project meet at the Park Lane Centre in Little Horton every Saturday, from 4pm to 7pm, providing English classes, meals, and social activities for up to 50 regular attendees originally from countries such as Afghanistan, Nigeria and Syria.

The 'Thank U Bradford' project was founded four months ago by Benjamin Ayesu, senior minister of Global Ministry of Champions, an Assemblies of God church with its head office in Bradford.

"The idea actually came out of the group itself, who all wanted to say thank you to Bradford for giving them refuge and shelter," said Mr Ayesu, who has previously led churches in Texas and London.

"They all agreed they wanted to give something back to the city, which I think is fantastic.

"The group wants to be active in helping in their communities and we hope this is the just the first project we will be able to support."

Volunteers will meet on the City Hall steps in Centenary Square at 11am on Saturday, where the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Mike Gibbons, will address the group.

They will then set off on the 'City Clean Up', picking litter along a large stretch of Manchester Road before ending at the Mayfield Centre, on Broadway Avenue, for a celebratory event featuring food and cultural entertainment, from 2pm to 5pm.

Wahida Shaffi, coordinator for the Near Neighbours project in Bradford, has helped support the project with grant aid and said the scheme had the potential to become a national campaign.

"This is a project that has very much grown out of local passion, and it is really striking to see the diverse nature of the group," she said.

"These are people who have come from difficult and often war-torn circumstances who want to give something back to a city that has welcomed them.

"They want to feel recognised as people who can use their skills to express their gratitude and make a valuable contribution to society.

"It is an absolutely fantastic project, and a really positive initiative for Bradford."

Other partners involved in the 'Thank U Bradford' project include Bradford Trident, the Bradford Refugee Council, the Olive Branch Trust, and Bradford City of Sanctuary.

All volunteers are welcome on Saturday, and will be provided with gloves, bags and litter pickers.

For more information, contact Mr Ayesu on 07415 108514, or at benheniro@yahoo.co.uk.

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