The problem

As Britain becomes more diverse by income, age and ethnicity, it becomes more important that different groups and individuals mix.

The Challenge had a vision of a society where our differences do not divide us, believing that we all benefit when people from different backgrounds come together.

The solution

In April 2009, five employees and a handful of volunteers founded The Challenge.

In 2014, with the support of the Mayor of London, they launched HeadStart, an innovative volunteering programme aimed at empowering young people for further education and employment.

HeadStart inspires a new generation of volunteers and connects young people to local volunteering opportunities and providing a guaranteed job interview to those who give up 16+ hours of their time. Today, The Challenge is the leading social integration charity.

52,000 hours have been contributed by headstart volunteers

Work in action

HeadStart is now operating across London, Birmingham, and some parts of Manchester, supporting thousands of young volunteers to gain invaluable skills and experiences while mixing with people from different backgrounds.

To date, HeadStart volunteers have contributed over 52,000 hours to benefitting their local communities, and the number just keeps growing.

The Big Changers

Emma Jenkins – HeadStart

As operational development director of HeadStart, Emma is responsible for the design and delivery of The Challenge’s new programmes and services. Emma joined The Challenge in 2012, co-creating the award-winning HeadStart volunteering programme, which connects young people with their community while increasing their employability. Prior to this, Emma led business development, strategy and fundraising teams in consultancy and third sector settings.

Jon Yates – The Challenge

An experienced leader, Jon is a McKinsey alum (rated top 5%) who founded one of the UK’s largest operational charities, The Challenge, which now turns over £60m per annum and works with 50,000 customers. Jon designed and took to scale the company’s three products including the government’s National Citizen Service (NCS). Jon established the Social Integration Commission and is now the Secretary of State for Education’s Special Adviser on Policy.


Today, The Challenge is the leading social integration charity.

Their impact is best told through the story of Kenneth and Mia (first published on the HeadStart website).

Learn more on their website.