Why we exist

The Challenge exists to build a more integrated society and to bring together people from different ages, ethnicities and income backgrounds. We do this because we believe that our country and our communities are at their best when people from all walks of life have the chance to meet, mix and get to know one another.

Over the last fifty years, the UK has become much more diverse by age, by ethnicity and by income. But despite our growing diversity, many of us spend relatively little time with people from different walks of life*.

We think this matters. We believe these divisions make it harder to understand how others tick, harder for those on lower incomes to build the networks they need to get good jobs, harder to stop prejudice from sneaking in, harder to feel at home in our neighbourhoods, harder to remain connected to the community around us as we get older and harder to vote for the common good.

We also know that, when we do meet people who are different from us, we tend to enjoy it. That’s why we work hard to bring together people from different backgrounds together – delivering programmes and activities that people from different walks of life want to be part of, and which build trust in our communities.

To sum up – we believe that our differences don’t have to divide us, and we exist to prove it.



* Throughout 2014 and early 2015, The Challenge supported The Social Integration Commission, which was set up to explore how different groups of people relate to one another in modern Britain.

We found that a lack of connectedness affects people from all backgrounds and reaches into every corner of our society. We also found that what academics refer to as ‘social segregation’ is curtailing our ability to solve key economic and social challenges in relation to employment, recruitment and career progression and community health and wellbeing.

You can read more about this Commission here.

  • 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 550 permanent staff nationally and over 3,500 seasonal staff

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

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

  • 66% of HeadStart graduates said 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

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

  • 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 NCS participants attended state schools, with 13% on free school meals

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

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