National Citizen Service

NCS is a government-backed programme which brings together young people from diverse backgrounds, providing them with strong skills for life, work and adulthood.

All 16 and 17 year-olds across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are eligible and The Challenge is the largest provider in the whole of the UK.

We deliver our NCS programme in London, Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham and West Midlands, Manchester, Lancashire and North and West Yorkshire.

NCS is an intensive, part-residential programme followed by a number of social action days, designed to empower participants to meaningfully impact their local community and gain new life skills.

The programme is divided into three stages:


NCS Personal Challenge – Get Active

Participants face their fears, develop confidence and bond with team mates on an action packed residential.

NCS Team Challenge – Get Involved

Teammates work together to learn a new skill in sport, media, photography, music, drama or enterprise in a university setting.

NCS Social Action – Make Your Mark

Using their newly-acquired skills, teams design a social action project in their local area and pitch their project to win funding to make it happen.

NCS has an enormous impact on its participants’ communities:

  • Young people taking part in NCS have designed and delivered over 3,500 social action projects with over 2,000 community partners.
  • In 2015, over 30,000 16 and 17 year olds took part in NCS delivered by The Challenge.
  • In 2014, 52% of participants were from a black and minority ethnic background, 94% attended state schools, 13% were on free school meals and 7% had a disability.
  • In a recent survey of NCS participants, 67% of young people reported that they are more likely to participate in volunteering in the community as a result of the programme.
  • 81% of participants felt that they gained an understanding of what life is like for others.

Additionally, the skills and experiences gained by NCS graduates, is now recognised positively by employers and educational institutions alike:

  • 72% agreed with the statement ‘I am more able to trust people’.
  • 88% felt they were better at working in a team.
  • 71% felt they were better at leading people.
  • 76% felt more confident about getting a job in the future.

The Challenge is proud of the strong range of alumni activities which we offer to NCS graduates – these include opportunities to build on their involvement in their community through The Challenge Society, and to learn valuable life and employment skills through participating in our HeadStart and Step Forward programmes.

 

If you are interested in the National Citizen Service or require any further information, please visit our dedicated NCS with The Challenge website.

Our Programmes

We live out our mission to bring people together regardless of background by delivering three programmes aimed at young people – NCS, HeadStart and Step Forward. Each brings people together from different backgrounds, giving them the experiences, confidence and networks to succeed.

If you are a student interested in taking part, a teacher who would like more information, or a parent who would like their child to take part, click on the websites to find out more.




A government-backed programme involving personal development, teamwork and social action.




A programme rewarding young people who volunteer in their communities with job opportunities.




A school-leavers’ programme providing a year in industry and skills training.

Read our case studies

HeadStart

HeadStart gets young people volunteering in their local community so that they mix and meet with people from all walks of life. It inspires young people to volunteer by guaranteeing everyone who does so an interview for a part-time job.

HeadStart is a win, win and win. It is a win for young people who gain critical skills for work and life through volunteering. It is a win for partnering employers who can recruit fantastic new staff – HeadStart candidates are up to four times more successful at job interviews than standard candidates and have a higher retention rate within their jobs. It is also a win for the local community which becomes more integrated as young people volunteer locally and get involved with the great work of local charities.

HeadStart was launched in 2013 to work with 30 young people. After just two years almost 3,000 young people take part in the programme each year providing over 40,000 volunteering hours to local communities. In London, it is delivered in partnership with two fantastic partners: the Mayor of London and AGL Education and the support of some amazing employers including Bloomberg, Lloyds Banking Group, New Look, Starbucks and Zendesk.

Step Forward

Step Forward brings together new school leavers from all backgrounds, providing them with one year’s professional work experience and skills training.

All participants build a professional and peer network across sectors and gain training in highly transferable skills and character development. They also build experience and knowledge in their chosen field. 

Step Forward recruits participants based on their potential to thrive, rather than the opportunities that they have already received. This makes sure young people from all backgrounds have the chance to develop the personal and professional skills, as well as the connections, required to thrive in a diverse workplace.

Step Forward enables employers to recruit talented school-leavers and ensures that young people from all backgrounds get the jobs their talent deserves.

Nearly a third of young people who have heard of Step Forward rated it as their first choice when leaving school, perceiving it as widening their debt-free options at 18. In its first year Step Forward was extremely popular, with over 400 applications for just 48 places. This year 150 participants are taking part in the programme.

The programme lasts 12 months and involves:

  • Induction: Participants spend a part-residential week with their peers.
  • Classroom-based training: Participants are taught by an expert tutor in their chosen programme. All young people also receive a personal mentor and career and academic advice.
  • Workplace-based training: Participants spend 30 hours a week learning through practical action.
  • Professional Development: Participants develop teamwork, leadership and communication skills through training with their peers.
  • Networks: All learners become part of a cohort of young people working with different employers.

 

If you are interested in the Step Forward programme or require any further information, please visit the Step Forward website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


NCS with The Challenge

 

h1. Heading

h2. Heading

h3. Heading

h4. Heading

h5. Heading
h6. Heading

Example body text

This is a lead paragraph. Make a paragraph stand out by adding .lead.

Maecenas sed diam eget risus varius blandit sit amet non magna. Donec id elit non mi porta gravida at eget metus.

Nullam quis risus eget urna mollis ornare vel eu leo. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Nullam id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula.

The following snippet of text is rendered as bold text.

The following snippet of text is rendered as italicized text.

An abbreviation of the word attribute is attr.

Quotes

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer posuere erat a ante.

Quote’s author in Source Title

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer posuere erat a ante.

Quote’s author in Source Title

Extend Bootstrap’s grid system with the thumbnail component to easily display grids of images, videos, text, and more.

Thumbnail label

Cras justo odio, dapibus ac facilisis in, egestas eget quam. Donec id elit non mi porta gravida at eget metus. Nullam id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula ut id elit.

Button Button

Thumbnail label

Cras justo odio, dapibus ac facilisis in, egestas eget quam. Donec id elit non mi porta gravida at eget metus. Nullam id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula ut id elit.

Button Button

Thumbnail label

Cras justo odio, dapibus ac facilisis in, egestas eget quam. Donec id elit non mi porta gravida at eget metus. Nullam id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula ut id elit.

Button Button

Message 1

This is a simple unit, a simple style component for calling extra attention to featured content or information.

Call to Action

Message 2

This is a simple unit, a simple style component for calling extra attention to featured content or information.

Call to Action

Message 3

This is a simple unit, a simple style component for calling extra attention to featured content or information.

Call to Action

Message 4

This is a simple unit, a simple style component for calling extra attention to featured content or information.

Call to Action

 

 

 

 

 


  • The Challenge is the largest provider of the National Citizen Service in the UK



  • 72% of our NCS participants agreed with the statement: ‘I am more able to trust people’



  • We employ over 400 permanent staff nationally and over 3,500 seasonal staff



  • 76% of our NCS participants felt more confident about getting a job in the future



  • In 2014, 93% of HeadStart graduates felt they had improved communication skills



  • In 2014, 66% of HeadStart graduates felt they would continue volunteering after HeadStart



  • Nearly a third of young people who have heard of Step Forward rated it as their first choice when leaving school



  • In 2014, 85% of HeadStart graduates felt they better trusted people from different walks of life



  • In 2014, The Challenge collaborated with 800 community and business partners



  • In 2014, 78% of HeadStart graduates felt more connected to their community



  • 88% of our NCS participants felt they were better at working in a team



  • 94% of young people attending NCS, delivered by The Challenge in 2014, attended state schools, with 13% on free school meals



  • Step Forward received over 400 applications in its first year for just 48 places



  • 7% of those attending NCS, delivered by The Challenge in 2014, had a disability



  • In 2014, 52% of participants in NCS, delivered by The Challenge, were from a black and minority ethnic background



  • Over 30,000 16 and 17 year olds will take part in NCS delivered by The Challenge in 2015