In April 2009, five employees and a handful of volunteers founded The Challenge. They were concerned that, as Britain becomes more diverse by income, age and ethnicity, it becomes more important that different groups and individuals mix. Otherwise, our differences will come to divide us. That year they set out to run a summer programme that would reach 158 young people in the heart of London and kick-start the life of an organisation which has continued to expand ever since. The programme they launched that summer would become the National Citizen Service (NCS) and would, within a few short years, touch the lives of tens of thousands of people.
In 2010 our first programme, which became NCS, rolled out to encompass South-West Birmingham before expanding still further to cover Greater London, the West Midlands and North-West England the following year. By 2013, NCS delivered by The Challenge was being offered in all London Boroughs, Surrey, the West Midlands and Greater Manchester, seeing us become the leading provider of the NCS across the whole of the UK. This swift story of growth has not yet reached its conclusion, however, and to this day The Challenge continues to expand in line with our desire to encourage social integration across Britain.
The Challenge has always sought to adapt to the needs of those we seek to empower and we now run three programmes that enable us to live out our mission of inspiring and connecting people in order to strengthen their communities. Alongside our year-round NCS programme, The Challenge delivers a successful school leavers programme called Step Forward, as well as an innovative volunteering programme which upskills and empowers those looking for work, called HeadStart.
Today, The Challenge is the leading charity for building a more integrated society and employs over 550 full-time staff. The modest number of 158 young people reached in 2009 continues to grow and we now deliver our programmes to over 30,000 people each year and impact the lives of a great deal more through our work with policy-makers.
We have faced challenges of our own along the way, but our ever-expanding pool of employees remains firmly committed to bringing about positive social change by inspiring people to strengthen their communities and forge meaningful and lasting connections with people different to themselves.
We have come a long way in just a few short years. If you would like to be a part of our story in the years to come and support the work that we continue to do across the UK, please visit our vacancies and partnership pages.