KENDAL People’s Cafe founder Helen Pateman is moving on from the business after three years at the helm of this award-winning community initiative.

Volunteers she has inspired at the Castle Street centre gathered to bid a fond farewell to the woman who has led a sea-change in the way Kendal transforms ‘waste into wellbeing’.

“Three years ago this month I met with friends for a drink, a loose idea for rescuing food waste in the town was hatched and making meals for people who were struggling,” recalled Helen.

“We held a trial cafe with a handful of like-minded friends of friends and Kendal People’s Cafe was born. To say the project has gone way beyond what we ever expected is an understatement.”

Helen added: “My hope was that we could create a food resource for the town. We have achieved that and so much more.”

From those humble beginnings as a weekly pop-up eatery at the South Lakes Foyer off Blackhall Road, Kendal People’s Cafe has cooked up thousands of meals from food past its best-before date. But rather than go into landfill, that food has instead provided a culinary lifeline for a broad spectrum of people across the community, from residents associations and repair cafes, to the homeless, the elderly, and the young, including lunches for children during summer holidays.

This year saw Helen’s ultimate vision come to fruition when a food waste ‘hub’ opened in the former Youth Connections building by County Hall. After being collected from various supermarkets, wholesale suppliers and local eateries, ingredients are then distributed throughout the town.

Having worked tirelessly since the cafe was launched in 2017, Helen has decided to pursue other interests and to spend more time caring for her family. A multi-talented individual, she is a freelance chef, an illustrator, and felting expert.

“I made very dear friends along the way with the cafe and feel thankful that new volunteers are now bringing their own passion to take it forward,” said Helen.