Welcome Back, Turtle Dove Cambridge!

September 2021: We are thrilled to announce the formal re-opening of operations here at Turtle Dove Cambridge! 

As we announce this uplifting news, we would also like to highlight the importance of sharing our whole story, including the hard parts.

Founder Kate Nation and director Sarah Hewett toasting teacups to the re-opening of Turtle Dove Cambridge
Founder Kate Nation and Director and Chair Sarah Hewett toasting teacups to the re-opening of Turtle Dove Cambridge

Being authentic about the struggles life can bring is largely why we exist. We believe in open and honest communication with all of our friends involved with Turtle Dove Cambridge. As such, sharing some difficulties we have faced over the last eighteen months is a heartfelt addition to what we advocate for. We would like to share a recount of our journey throughout the Coronavirus pandemic to where we are now regarding our eagerly anticipated re-opening. The reality of the situation due to the pandemic has meant that this process has not been easy or straightforward. However, we are wholeheartedly grateful to be back providing crucial work experience for young women and also looking to expand towards new opportunities and programmes for the future.

The pandemic, as we are all painfully aware, has drastically affected the lives of many across the globe and here in the United Kingdom. People have suffered immensely, businesses have collapsed and the need for social and community care has been significantly heightened. For us at Turtle Dove Cambridge, it meant that plans made before the pandemic hit came to an abrupt halt, leaving our staff, volunteers and young women collectively anticipating the future of our operations. 


So, what did it look like for us as the pandemic took hold of the globe?

Over the last eighteen months, we have been carefully navigating the unstable and volatile nature of the pandemic to ensure the safety of our staff, young women and the wider public. This of course meant an immediate end to in-person events run by Turtle Dove in March of 2020. In light of our reopening, we continue to follow updated government guidelines, encouraging social distancing and the use of masks where necessary. 

Since our operations were limited, we worked on various projects which have cushioned the backbone of Turtle Dove. We are so grateful to have worked with the designers at Dovetailed who helped us produce wellbeing packages to be sent out as a token of support to all the young women we worked with in the first lockdown. Their generosity didn’t stop there as Dovetailed also designed the wrap for our van, brand images for our Alternative Education Programme and illustrations for our Turtle Dove & Friends network. We were also endorsed by the Institute of Hospitality who have commended us for our contribution to developmental opportunities for young women through our Alternative Education Programme. This endorsement will offer great credibility and well-deserved recognition to those who participate in our programme launching later this year.

Recent months have seen us onboarding multiple new staff and volunteers who have assisted in the process of getting Turtle Dove up and running after the curveball thrown by the pandemic, which sadly knocked us off course. It was difficult for us to accept that the very reason we exist, to provide essential work experience for young women who really need it, could not be fulfilled for an uncertain, uncontrollable period of time.


Facing the Challenges

While the pandemic triggered a drastic shift from in-person to online working, it left us without the means to continue running events with young women. We aim to provide a safe, empowering and supportive environment for young women who receive work experience and youth support with us and this was just not possible over online methods. In turn, the complexities of staff being furloughed and the lack of events meant that we were also not financially or practically able to offer continued emotional support as a stand-alone service, nor did we deem it appropriate to do so. In normal circumstances, the emotional support we offer comes hand in hand with young women gaining work experience with us. It acts as a tool to enable young women to comfortably and more confidently engage with the work experience we provide. As we were unable to offer either, it left us at Turtle Dove being far more detached from the young women we work with than we have ever wanted or anticipated.

We acknowledge and empathise with the young women involved with us in that this will have also been an uncertain, frustrating time for them. We were only able to keep in contact through light-touch updates and signposting them to other services who could offer support to them around the impact of the pandemic. We hope that despite Turtle Dove being forced to close, they know that we care for them greatly and we have been encouraged by the enthusiasm we have seen since the news of our reopening.


What does the future hold?

Whilst we are accepting of the struggles faced by Turtle Dove within this time period, our primary focus is now returning to working events with young women and establishing projects which we hope will expand our services successfully. Before the end of 2021, we are looking forward to launching and onboarding students for our Alternative Education Programme. We are also working towards building our sustainability and core team.


We appreciate you…

Though the effects of the pandemic have been extremely tough for everyone, we would like to celebrate and thank the many people who have been supporters of us, both practically and cheering us on from the sidelines. From Directors attaining financial bids for Turtle Dove when staff were furloughed, ensuring we were able to last the pandemic, to the young women who have been patiently waiting for us to re-open safely, we acknowledge and appreciate you and are immensely glad to have you on our journey. 

Keep an eye on our socials in the upcoming weeks, as we have some news to share with you regarding working our first festival and also a coincidental recognition of the story behind why we are called Turtle Dove in a current news story!