Our Story

HeadStart was developed in 2013 by The Challenge, in partnership with the Mayor of London and leading businesses. It was designed to better prepare school leavers for the world of work today, at the same time helping to build stronger, better-connected communities.

We recognise that our current education system struggles to prepare young people for life and work in the 21st Century, especially when interpersonal skills, empathy, resilience and networks are increasingly important to our knowledge-based economy. More and more, young people today need the ability to interact well with individuals from different backgrounds; move between different jobs understanding new unwritten rules, with the resilience and tenacity to retrain and learn throughout their career.

We believe that high-quality volunteering is an important part of the solution, giving young people a meaningful experience that will help them develop greater responsibility, grow networks and learn soft skills by receiving feedback and reflecting on their experiences.

Thanks to HeadStart, over 11,000 young people across England have now volunteered 200,000 hours in their local communities and gained access to a guaranteed job interview.

We are excited that HeadStart has found a new home as part of Family Action, a charity that has been supporting children, young people and families across the UK since 1869. We look forward to now supporting many more young people, helping them gain skills and get ahead.

To learn more about the work of Family Action, please have a look at their website here.

How it works


Volunteer 16 hours in your community with one of our charity partners. If you are already volunteering somewhere you can use this as your opportunity! Volunteering ticks all the boxes - you'll start building skills which we'll help you expand in workshops, you'll meet new people, and you'll give back to your community.

Gain Skills

Our employability workshops have been developed to support you to get the most out of your volunteering experience and to give you the skills and characteristics you need to get ahead.

Get Ahead

We work with a range of employers to offer you the chance to gain experience and learn about the workplace. After you volunteer 16 hours, you'll receive a guaranteed interview with one of our corporate partners (for a real job or work experience placement).

Where we deliver