Our programmes

We live out our mission to bring people together regardless of background by delivering three programmes aimed at young people – NCS, HeadStart and Step Forward. Each brings people together from different backgrounds, giving them the experiences, confidence and networks to succeed.

If you are a young person interested in taking part, a teacher who would like more information, or a parent who would like their child to take part, click on the websites to find out more.




A government-backed programme involving personal development, teamwork, and social action.




A programme rewarding young people who volunteer in their communities with job opportunities.




A school-leavers’ programme providing a year in industry and skills training.


  • 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