Find out more about how resident, Nocketa used her experience of volunteering and charity work to start her own social enterprise – Earth Living.

A Catalyst resident since 2014, Nocketa wanted to help more in her community but wasn’t sure where to start. In 2018, she began volunteering at surplus food charity – The Felix Project – in Catalyst’s Friary Park development, and later volunteered and worked with another Catalyst partner – youth charity, Delve founded by the late, Jamal Edwards (MBE, MBA & PHD).

Through her charity work, Nocketa began to feel more positive and outgoing, ‘I wanted to give back to the community and develop my skills,’ she said. ‘Volunteering helped me feel more confident and has improved my communication skills.’

Her confidence increased so much that she started to think about the next steps with her volunteering and developing her career prospects. She attended a Catalyst careers event in 2019 and said it was a ‘real eye-opener’. After speaking to the Communities team, she realised she could use the skills she’d learned from supporting the cookery classes with The Felix Project to start her own catering business.

‘I’ve always had a passion for cooking. I used to do it with my grandma, so I decided to see if I could turn something I love into more than a hobby. The Communities team asked me to cater for a local event. It was fun, and it didn’t feel like work – that was where it started.’

The Communities team supported Nocketa to set up her own catering business and advised her on the training she needed and how to access it.

Before working with the team at Catalyst, I didn’t know about the paperwork or resources needed. They guided me with getting the Companies House registration, insurance, and registration with the council as a food business.’

As Nocketa’s business grew, she knew she wanted to use it to do some good within her community. That’s when she met fellow Earth Living founder, Michelle, and together they developed the business into the social enterprise it is today.

Earth Living has both a charitable side – where they provide food and hot meals for those in need and its business side – where they cook and sell food to the public to raise the money needed to offer free food to vulnerable people.

Nocketa’s business partner, Michelle, chose the name Earth Living, which they both feel passionately about, ‘We called it Earth Living because it’s not just for us. The food we provide is for people in need, and it feels like we’re making a difference. If you’d asked me a year ago, I couldn’t have imagined how much I have achieved for myself and the impact we are making in the community. It has changed the lives of volunteers that work with us, like The Felix Project and Delve did for me when I first started volunteering.’

‘We started offering free hot meals to vulnerable residents at Twynholm Baptist Church. They allowed us to use the kitchen and facilities, and we provided the food. We now work at Friary Park on Mondays, where we put food parcels together and deliver them to Catalyst customers and the wider community. The team at Catalyst lets us know who their vulnerable residents are, so we get in touch and arrange delivery.’

Earth Living is developing fast, with various kitchens and training opportunities planned for volunteers looking to gain new skills and develop themselves.

They also provide food parcels to one of our older people’s service schemes – Antilles House every week. ‘We’re expanding so much we’re getting recommended to other companies such as Age UK, where we now provide a cook and luncheon at Hammersmith Age UK for their elderly customers.’

In addition, Nocekta and Michelle are planning more cooked lunches at our Friary Park and Unity Centre community centres, where they’ll invite elderly customers to come along for a sit-down meal. But, Nocketa says, ‘We want it to be more than just-food. We want to provide a safe and welcoming space where elderly customers can relax and socialise with their neighbours.’

Nocketa encourages anyone thinking about volunteering or starting a new project to think big, ‘Don’t worry about what if – the ‘ifs’ are there to scare you. Just go for it! Think that you are doing it for yourself and your community and making a difference in people’s lives. It’s so rewarding, and you learn so many skills.’

Find out more about Earth Living

Earth Living deliver free cooked food to vulnerable people in areas across Westminster, Chiswick, Acton and more. Find out more about Earth Living and all their great work in West London.

We’re here to help

Are you thinking about volunteering in your local community, or do you need advice on starting a social enterprise or small business? Our Communities team are here you support you.