This is the only summer I wish I could rewind and start all over again. NCS has given me the best experience of my life.

NCS participant, 2018

NCS (National Citizen Service)

NCS is a government-backed programme which brings young people aged 15 – 17 from different backgrounds together for a common purpose.

Social mixing is at the heart of NCS. By making the programme accessible for everyone and by setting team goals and challenges, we inspire new friendships across differences. The Challenge is now a leading provider of NCS, working with our partners and seasonal staff to deliver the programme to tens of thousands of young people every year.

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young people took part in NCS programmes run by The Challenge or our local providers in 2017.


said that NCS encourages people to respect the viewpoints of people from different backgrounds.


said that NCS helped them make friends from different backgrounds to their friends outside the programme.

NCS - Watch us in action

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How does NCS work?

NCS is a three to four-week programme, broken down into four phases. Live away from home,
meet incredible people and have an amazing experience. Any questions? Check out our NCS guide our FAQS.

  • ncs phase one

    Phase 1: Adventure + Your Personal Challenge

    Stay in group accommodation, build your confidence and face your fears by taking on your own personal challenge.

    You could try your hand at abseiling, rafting, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing and more. All while meeting new people along the way!

  • ncs phase two

    Phase 2: Discovery – Your Team Challenge

    Experience independent living whilst learning new skills in creative communication and enterprise with an industry professional.

    Get involved for your chance to apply your skills with a local charity or organisation to discover what you’re made of!

  • A young man and young woman rowing a boat

    Phase 3: Action – Your Real Challenge

    Return home to use your new skills to design a local social action project and make your mark in your local community! You’ll pitch your idea to a panel of judges to gain expert advice to turn your project into reality. Your actions can have a big impact: Be The Change!

  • A group of four young women hugging

    Phase 4: Shape your Future – Your Next Challenge

    Sign up for exclusive events and opportunities even after you finish! Reunite with your friends at our national events, take the lead and represent NCS on one of our youth boards. Or volunteer at one of our local, social action projects to make a difference. Start your graduate journey today!

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For any NCS queries please call 020 3510 5050.

We strive to ensure that any young person who wants to take part in the NCS programme, can. Read more about the Inclusion Needs we support.