Thoughts from The Challenge

We work on a local level to connect people across all ages, ethnicities and walks of life, and advance great ideas to build a more integrated society. You can view a selection of blogs and articles from The Challenge team below.

Finding our common ground

Earlier this year, research body Migration Observatory predicted that the UK will become the most ethnically diverse western nation by 2040, overtaking the United States. Whilst the UK is one of the most diverse countries, people tend to live segregated lives, most evident within our schooling system.

Throughout history people have shown intolerance towards one another, which can be explained in evolutionary terms as we tend to congregate with those who are similar to us, as a form of protection.

But, should we really be that primal in the 21st Century?

At The Challenge Network we believe that learning to be more open-minded will allow us to be more receptive to new perspectives, cultures and religions.

An example of this can be found from one of our NCS participants who became a symbol of similarity through difference.

“In the beginning of my NCS experience, I felt a little awkward around my team members as they asked me a lot of questions about my Hijab and religion of Islam. Sometimes the questions seemed ignorant but others were from people that were genuinely interested in my religion. After a while I didn’t feel singled out as we were all new and all in the same boat.

Eventually, we became really close and I feel as though I represented Islam well to my peers, some of them did not have a Muslim female friend until they had met me and some of them seemed surprised that I was a normal girl, just like them.”


  • 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