The Challenge to be model for Conservatives’ National Citizen Service


David Cameron cited The Challenge programme, run by The Challenge Network charity, in his launch of the Conservatives’ National Citizen Service policy today.

The Challenge’s aims are to help young people understand the responsibilities of adulthood, to bring them together with people of different social backgrounds and to motivate them to get involved in strengthening their local communities.

The programme recruits teams of diverse 16 year olds from their local community to take on an intensive course that includes physical, creative and civic challenges. It culminates in them planning and running their own community project. A typical team of 12 young people will be drawn from 10-15 local schools plus referrals from other youth organisations.

The programme pilot took place last summer with 158 16-year olds in Southwark and North Hammersmith. This summer, 630 participants from London and Birmingham will take part.

The programme has three main sections:

  • The Personal Challenge: One week of outdoor activities for 5 teams of 12 people in a residential setting to bond the teams together, build self-awareness, a sense of personal responsibility and trust.
  • The Team Challenge: Teams are challenged to serve their local community using skills they are passionate about (e.g. designing and performing a show for residents of an Age Concern day centre, staging a public debate in the community about a local issue, running a multi-sport skills coaching course for young children).
  • The Real Challenge: Teams have a week, working alongside community representatives, to explore some of the key challenges facing their neighbourhood and commit to a project that will bring the community together (e.g. organise a street party, neighbourhood gallery, community sports day etc.). Each team then has four weekends to plan and deliver these projects, with the support of a dedicated mentor and a full-time community organiser.

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