News from The Challenge

We’re a rapidly-growing organisation and the UK’s leading charity for building a more integrated society. You can view the latest news regarding our programmes, mission and impact in communities across the UK below.


Rapidly expanding HeadStart picks up prestigious charity award

HeadStart, our socially integrated volunteering programme for 16-17 year olds, took home the award for Best Charity and Public Sector Partnership from last night’s Third Sector Charity Awards.

The programme, a joint project with the Greater London Authority, bridges the gap between school and employment while getting young people more active in their communities. Young people who volunteer for 16 or more hours with a local charity are rewarded with help in building their job-finding skills, and are guaranteed an interview with a corporate partner. This helps young people gain critical work-ready skills, gives partnering employers fantastic new staff, and increases social integration at a local level.

The judges were impressed by HeadStart’s runaway success in its first 18 months, as the programme smashed all its targets. More than 3,000 young people have volunteered through the programme, giving more than 50,000 volunteering hours to support 234 charities. 70% of our young people were assessed as work-ready by businesses, compared with 20% of standard applicants. A total of 253 young people have found employment with programme partners.

The Challenge director Jon Yates, who collected the award along with Natalie Cramp of the Greater London Authority, commented: “Thanks to the hard work of teams at both the GLA and The Challenge, we’ve had a huge impact on the lives of young people in London. The numbers speak for themselves – the programme really is a win, win, win for partners, young people, and society. We’re endebted to our corporate partners, including Starbucks, Bloomberg, Lloyds Banking Group, New Look and Zendesk, for providing work opportunities. We’re also very grateful to our main grant funders alongside the GLA: The Heathrow Community Fund and the Department for Education. We look forward to seeing HeadStart’s success in London repeated in Birmingham, Manchester, and beyond.” 

For more details on the programme take a look at the HeadStart website


  • 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