A community café and gallery in Somerset will be joining celebrations to mark Ukraine Independence Day this week.

Tomorrow, Thursday, 24 August, will see communities across the country come together to celebrate Ukraine Independence Day – a very special day in the Ukrainian calendar.

The Ukrainian Café and Gallery was set up in Taunton earlier this year by Natalia and Maryna with the generous support of local businesses and the community. Now in permanent premises in Paul Street, opposite Taunton Library, the café has become a popular spot for local people to find out more about Ukrainian food, culture and art, and for the community to socialise and integrate.

Driven by the desire to create opportunities for others seeking employment, social interaction and a centre to support the Ukraine appeal, the café is a wonderful example of the dedication and resilience of its owners, as they explain in a short film, The Ukrainian Café: a story of resilience

Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, Lead Member for Communities, Housing and Culture at Somerset Council comments:

Thanks to the success of the Homes 4 Ukraine scheme, we now have many Ukrainian guests staying with hosts in Somerset and contributing greatly to our communities – as the café demonstrates. The strength and resilience of our Ukrainian guests is truly inspiring and, while I’m sure many will be reflective, I hope then can enjoy a happy and peaceful Independence Day tomorrow.

There are a number of ways you can support displaced people in Somerset, whether by supporting local groups and charities, offering your time and skills, or by hosting a family in your home. Please visit our website for details of how to get involved.

Richard Holt, Co-director of the Creative Innovation Centre (CICCIC) key sponsor of the cafe and Ukrainian family host adds:

It has and continues to be an absolute pleasure to support the Ukrainian Café and Gallery in Taunton and all credit goes to Natalie and Maryna for their initiative, drive and determination in turning a love of baking into a thriving cultural hub for the community.

A huge thank you also to all the local businesses and people who have helped, supported and given so generously to make the Café a success.

I would encourage anyone who would like to, to get involved in supporting our Ukrainian guests – in whatever way – as they navigate life in a new community.

Somerset has a long history of supporting people in need, no matter the circumstances. If you are able to offer your time, skills or resources to support guests, please visit Refugee resettlement in Somerset or get in touch at homesforukraine@somerset.gov.uk.

Since the Homes for Ukraine scheme was launched in March 2022, Somerset has welcomed over 1,500 Ukrainians to date, with host families playing a pivotal role in creating a safe environment for guests to re-settle and rebuild their lives in some way, supporting and helping them navigate a new life in the UK.

More hosts continue to be needed for Ukrainian families in Somerset. To find out more about the Homes for Ukraine scheme and to register your interest in becoming a host, visit Homes for Ukraine.

Locations and contact details for Welcome Hubs across Somerset can be found at Welcome Hubs.

To find out how you could change a child’s story as a foster carer for an Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child, visit www.fosteringinsomerset.org.uk or call 0800 587 9900 to find out more.


A taste of Ukraine in Somerset

About this article

August 23, 2023

Gayatri Barua-Howe


Press Release