How two Ukrainian refugees became cake entrepreneurs in Oxfordshire town of Wantage

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Two Ukrainian women who fled their home country after the outbreak of war a year ago have started a new business in the Oxfordshire town that took them in.

Lara Tysiachna and Alyona Tarasova were both professionals living near Kyiv when Russia attacked Ukraine last February.

They both left their homes and jobs and fled the country with their children.

The pair, who've known each other for 17 years, met up in Poland.

They decided to come to the UK, and were hosted in the Oxfordshire market town of Wantage.

"When we arrived to the UK, we didn't have any plans, any thoughts, about what we should do," Alyona tells ITV Meridian's Charlotte Briere-Edney.

But wandering round the town one morning, the pair realised how much they missed traditional Ukrainian sweet delicacies.

So they decided to open a cafe to sell them.

The two women found a small venue in Wantage for their cafe - but the premises lacked a suitable kitchen where the cakes could be made.

The entrepreneurs were able to find a premises for the cafe, but it lacked a big enough kitchen to make the cakes

They began enquiring among the local community, and as luck would have it, a local woman offered to help.

Faith Culshaw had met the two Ukrainian mums while volunteering to teach English to refugees, and agreed that they could use her home kitchen in the mornings.

"My husband and I discussed it, and thought we could easily not use our kitchen in the mornings," says Faith, who's lived in Wantage for many years.

"There are two perks - one is that my kitchen is kept very clean, and yes we get the occasional delicious treat which is very nice!

"I think the Ukrainians have been really well received, and we were very impressed by their work ethic and wanting to do stuff while they're here," she added.

"They don't know how long they're going to be here. And it's a miserable time for them generally. So it's nice to be able to help in a small way."

The cakes are all prepared in the kitchen of a member of the local Wantage community

The kitchen had to pass a health a safety inspection and is thoroughly cleaned every day to keep it up to scratch for professional cake-making.

The two women are incredibly grateful for Faith's offer: "It was amazing. It was unexpected because she doesn't know us well."

Every weekday morning, Lara prepares the mousse cakes, while Alyona runs the cafe.

"Lara is cooking. She likes to cook something delicious and unusual," Alyona says.

The cakes on display at the new cafe in Wantage

Lara and Alyona and their children have been staying with a host family in Wantage.

Rachel Groves, who hosts them gushes: "It's been a joy, you know, getting to know people from a different culture and background, getting to know their children."

She says hosting has had many benefits: "We do this thing where we take it and turns to cook.

"So there's eight of us at dinner every night, which means a lot less work for me, but also some very delicious food, courtesy of Lara and I have fabulous cooking, so I feel like we're the beneficiaries in every way, to be honest.

"I'm just really pleased that they found something that they can feel they're making a useful and lovely contribution to Wantage," Rachel added.

Word about the cake shop is already spreading through the town, and the pair say they have "many plans" for the business.

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