Impact Report 2018-19

We’re proud to share The Challenge’s impact report for 2018/19. Between June 2018 and May 2019 we worked with 46,000 young people who completed over one million hours of volunteering for good causes across England.

I made new friends I still talk to now. I also developed skills such as communication and teamwork.

Raishay, NCS participant

This report shows how we helped young people build trusting and meaningful relationships with people from different backgrounds to create a more integrated society. We explain how we measure our impact and show the significant difference we’ve made to the lives and views of young people taking part in our programmes.

More than eight out of ten young people we worked with said National Citizen Service (NCS) helped them make friends from different backgrounds while 90% of HeadStart participants said that their experience of volunteering on HeadStart would encourage them to take on new challenges in the future. We were particularly pleased both to see almost all of our headline impact metrics for NCS improve in 2018 compared to 2017, and that activities we piloted in 2018 showed considerable positive impact.

Although The Challenge entered administration at the end of November 2019 we are proud of everything the organisation has achieved, and delighted that all of the work featured in this report, including the HeadStart, HeadStart Action programmes, our work with the DfE on T-Levels and our policy and research activities will all now continue in new homes.

Key findings

NCS (National Citizen Service)

  • 44,000 young people took part in NCS programmes run by The Challenge or our local providers in 2018
  • 78% said that NCS helped them to understand the challenges and experiences of those different from them (vs. 71% in 2017)
  • 78% said that NCS encourages people to respect the experiences and viewpoints of people from different backgrounds (vs. 75% in 2017)
  • 81% said that NCS helped them make friends from different backgrounds to their friends outside the programme (vs. 79% in 2017)


  • 2,200 young people across England took part in HeadStart in 2018–19
  • 44,000 hours of their time were volunteered to local charities
  • 67% said they felt connected to their local community after HeadStart, compared to 45% who felt this way before
  • 90% said that their experience of volunteering on HeadStart would encourage them to take on new challenges in the future

New Innovations

  • 79% of people who played our mobile app game On the Surface demonstrated a high degree of empathy toward people facing a difficult situation by the end of the game, compared to 46% at the start of the game
  • 89% of HeadStart Action participants said that by the end of the programme they felt comfortable mixing with people different from them, compared to 69% at the start

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