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.

Is social exclusion unavoidable?

This morning I walked over Millennium bridge on my way to work.  On the middle of the bridge, a guy was handing out some flyers with a tennis player on the front.

After grabbing one, I quickly realised it was a Jewish flyer that compared tennis with religion. I found the link quite tenuous at first, but soon realised it was rather genius.


Whilst many of us celebrated Andy Murray’s Wimbledon triumph, there were also many that sat by unaffected on the sidelines. Sporting events that bring people together, like Wimbledon, like The Ashes, like the football World Cup, turn some people off.

Faith is quite similar in this way – it can connect people from all ages, all ethnicities, and all income backgrounds. But it can also leave some of us feeling uncomfortable, disconnected, even pressured.

It got me thinking – is this avoidable? Do the things with the power to connect many of us always leave some feeling excluded? Is there anything we can do about it?

At The Challenge Network, we have brought together people from all ethnicities, from all ages, from all income backgrounds to build connections with one another.

There is always something we can do to bring us all together. 

  • 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