An innovative volunteering programme empowering young people to give back to their local communities.


Region London, Birmingham, Manchester
Scale 45,000 per year 
Funding Structure Grants and Corporate funding
2018/2019 Employer Partners Starbucks


HeadStart is an innovative volunteering programme designed to help young people gain the skills they need to get ahead. Created by The Challenge, the UK’s leading social integration charity, it empowers young people to give back to their local communities whilst gaining employability skills and receiving a guaranteed job interview.

If you sign up for HeadStart you’ll have the opportunity to volunteer at least 16 hours with one of our charity partners, which includes organisations like Teach First, Royal Naval College Greenwich, Cancer Research, Disability Sports Coach, libraries, foodbanks, summer holiday clubs, and many more!

Once you start volunteering you’ll gain access to exclusive employability workshops- all which help prepare you for your guaranteed job interview for an entry level job with one of our corporate partners including international employers such as Starbucks.

Case Study

Kenneth participated in HeadStart during summer 2015 and volunteered at the London Bowling Club for 16 hours, helping with the maintenance and restoration of the club.

After completing his volunteering, he went for a part-time job interview with Starbucks. It was the first time he had ever been interviewed, and he was incredibly nervous. He found the advice given by HeadStart instrumental in the interview going well. He said attending the workshops taught him a range of useful tips and tricks. Skills like understanding how to make a good impression, and how to use techniques like STAR to answer questions (Situation, Task, Action, Result) were vital and he still uses them three years on.

Following his interview he successfully secured a part-time barista role and worked at the Berkeley Street location for two years before leaving to take part in a year-long apprenticeship with Bloomberg in September 2017. During his time at Starbucks he was invited to attend a meeting with the Board of Directors where he spoke about his HeadStart experience and attended a coffee tasting with top Starbucks directors. On his experience he says:

“[Starbucks] was like a family. I really liked the environment and it was like our own little world where your only focus is on making the customer happy. It gave me an outlet to cope with the stress of my A-levels. It was really hard to leave.”

He firmly believes HeadStart helped change his life:

“Whether you get the job or not, you get to have the chance to meet new people in a variety of different settings, and learn new transferable skills you thought you wouldn’t get at such an early time in your life, HeadStart provides you with the skills that you need for the future. It has allowed me to become more independent and self-reliant. It’s a win-win.”

He is now at Newcastle University studying computer science and working part-time for the mobile banking company Monzo. After university he plans on going into IT and working in a customer facing role.

Click here to visit HeadStart’s website.