It was a fierce battle with the Home Office amid many logistical challenges, but Natalia is now safe in Halton.
Tanya, born in Ukraine, now works tirelessly to provide all possible support to refugees.
While helping connect them with hosts in the UK, she discovered that most Ukrainians were too scared to throw away their leftover savings on a trip to the UK.
“Their minds are numb from making such serious decisions,” she said. “Most have lost their jobs.
“Many of them don’t have a lot of savings and fear that they will have to spend their last savings if they leave Ukraine or Poland.”
With that in mind, Tanya is now helping through her shoe business, smartstein.co.uk, which she runs at Halton Mill.
Tanya has lived in England for 10 years and her family moved to Halton four years ago.
Cleverstein designs and manufactures innovative ballet flats that are sold with removable accessories to completely transform the shoes.
Shoes and accessories were made in Ukraine before the invasion. The brand is circular, recycles leather and fabric waste to make shoe accessories with Ukrainian artisans and collects them for recycling.
Tanya is an award-winning shoe designer and was recognized by the Global Network of Women Innovators as the winner in the creative category in 2019.
Cleverstein now dedicates its remaining stock to supporting Ukrainian refugees. The sale of each pair of shoes will sponsor a Ukrainian refugee to travel to the UK to stay with a host.
“Sponsoring refugee travel right now is the best way people can help,” Tanya said.
Meanwhile, Natalia is now enjoying her new life in Halton, where she now bakes her signature Ukrainian cakes for the local community, while gardening, learning English and helping refugees coming to the UK.
She also helps Cleverstein with shoe accessories, and visitors can say hello to the Halton Mill office.
You can buy Cleverstein shoes and accessories online, or contact Tanya to schedule a fitting in Halton at [email protected]