Turtle Dove

Turtle Dove is a social enterprise for young women in Cambridge identified as NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) or at risk of becoming NEET. They provide work experience and youth work support in order to:

  • Raise self-esteem and improve mental health
  • Improve employability
  • Promote connection with the community
  • Reduce isolation
  • Encourage a more positive perception of marginalised young women within society

Barriers to education and employment affect young women disproportionately. In April-June 2016, 274,000 young women aged 16-24 in the UK were considered economically inactive, compared to 179,000 young men (Young Women’s Trust). Being NEET has serious consequences for both individual and society and is a major predictor of later unemployment.

“The ladies I drove home from the Tea Party mentioned how lovely the Turtle Dove volunteers were - they were very grateful.”

The young women referred to Turtle Dove are disadvantaged and have complex issues, which leads to disengagement and makes it harder for them to access education, employment, training and voluntary work. Turtle Dove offers support for these young women in taking the initial step into employment by providing accessible work experience opportunities in the community through events, projects, workshops and training. Time Credits, a national Spice initiative, are given in return for the young women’s engagement enabling them to access facilities such as Better Leisure gyms and The Light Cinema.

Turtle Dove has received three grants through Cambridgeshire Community Foundation to support the vital work they do for young women and the community. Most recently, the social enterprise received a grant of £5,000 from Comic Relief to help fund their provision of work experience opportunities including community events for the elderly. As well as promoting inter-generational cohesion and improving the well-being of the elderly people involved, these events will provide valuable work experience and help young women transition into employment.

“There was a lot of laughter during the event, and our folk loved the attention given to them by the Turtle Dove team.”

Turtle Dove also received a 2016/17 High Sherriff Award which enabled the young women to hold a Christmas tea party for isolated older people, in collaboration with the national charity Contact The Elderly. 11 Turtle Dove volunteers helped with setting up, greeting the guests, serving and clearing up after the event and 72 people participated in total.


One of the young women who has benefitted from working with Turtle Dove suffers from mental health issues and used to live in supported housing. While volunteering at art workshops, it became apparent how much social anxiety and financial difficulties were affecting her self-esteem. However, at one workshop she showed great sensitivity when helping a man with advanced dementia, a confidence-boosting experience which “picked her up” and “made her day”. As a result she is considering working part time with the elderly and getting further training in dementia.

To see more about Turtle Dove’s work, go to

Turtle Dove website (new website coming soon)