TODAY is the start of Refugee Week which is marked in Bradford with a line-up of events including an arts exhibition, music, theatre and a walk for justice.

Bradford Council's health and social portfolio holder, Councillor Ralph Berry will officially start the week of events at 5.30pm at St Peter's House, next to the Bradford Cathedral.

The evening will feature personal experiences of asylum seekers and refugees in the city as well as music and poetry from students at Carlton Bolling College and a performance from singer songwriter John Froud.

It also sees the start of a special exhibition called CommonGround/SharedDreams, showing work created by refugees, school children and some specially commissioned pieces from other artists.

Members of the public can visit it from tomorrow until Saturday, June 20, 10am to 4pm.

During today's opening event, Carlton Bolling College will be presented with its School of Sanctuary status to mark how it welcomes refugees.

Mary Blacka, who runs the School of Sanctuary project and has organised the art exhibition, said: "Bradford has a history of welcoming asylum seekers and refugees. It still does and long may it continue to do so. It is one of just a few cities with special provision to take in refugees from Syria."

On Wednesday there will be an annual sponsored Walk for Justice to raise awareness of the realities faced by people seeking sanctuary in Bradford. The walk starts at 10am from Centenary Square and will make its way to the Home Office's immigration offices at Waterside Court in Leeds.

Lizzie Lowenstein, one of the organisers, said: "The long walk from Centenary Square in Bradford to Waterside Court Reporting Centre in Leeds, a distance of over ten miles, highlights the plight of the many asylum seekers from Bradford who are required to report there on a regular basis.

"Those whose cases have been refused are denied any state benefits; they are not allowed to work, have no money for transport and must make the journey on foot."

On Thursday there will also be a music and words performance by John Froud at Kala Sangham starting at 7.30pm.

Two other Refugee Week events which have already taken place were an open day at St Vincent's charity in Rees Way and a short theatrical verbatim performance of Refugee Voices at St Cuthbert's Church in Wrose last night.

Maurice Wren, chairman of the Refugee Council, said: “With the world facing the greatest refugee crisis in recent memory, Refugee Week provides an important opportunity to celebrate and recognise the contribution refugees make to their adopted home and to reflect on the situation of those fleeing persecution.

"Throughout history, refugees have contributed hugely to the lives of everyone in Britain, by enriching our culture, our economy and our communities, and by reminding us that compassion is a hallmark of a strong and open society.”