Frequently asked questions

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Alternatively, you can read through the FAQs within the relevant categories. 



1. How do I use this website?

1.1 How does the Staffing Portal work?

Welcome to the Staffing Portal! This is where you a) apply for a seasonal role on the NCS programmes, b) book onto events such as group assessments and role training sessions, c) indicate your availability for the NCS programmes, and d) receive information on your work placements and sign your employment contract.

Once you're logged in, you'll see that the home page is split into three 'stages'; Application, Placement & Programme. First, you need to fill out the 'Application stage' - complete your profile, submit your application, and once your application's been reviewed, book onto an assessment.

Following a successful assessment you'll be conditionally offered a role - then the 'Placement stage' will be available. Here, you fill out your 'essential information', apply for a DBS, book onto role training and outline your availability on the 'choosing when I can work' and 'Dates when I can't work' pages.

Finally, once you've been allocated to a work placement or 'wave', the 'Programme stage' opens. On the 'My Role' page, you'll be able to view your timetable, download helpful resources and sign your employment contract.

You'll notice that there are icons next to each page:

- Blue tick: you have completed all of this section
- Green cog: this section is incomplete
- Red cross: there's a problem with this section which you need to review immediately.

1.2 Why can't I access some parts of the website?

To ensure that we only collect information from candidates if and when we need it, we 'lock' various sections of the Staffing Portal. This means you'll only have access to the pages that you currently need for your role.

We'll also lock some sections while we process your information; for instance, once you've submitted your application form, you'll be unable to go back and change anything while we're reviewing it. If you think you've submitted any incorrect information, it's best to contact your staffing team to see if they can amend this manually for you.

1.3 I'm having technical difficulties - what do I do?

Please submit a technical help query - click on the 'Help' button at the top of the page.

A form will come up on the page. Please make sure you provide your full name and the phone number and email address you've signed up with. In the 'summary' field, please try to be as concise as possible so that we can identify the problem quickly.

In the 'Details of your problem' field, please provide as much information as possible, including what page you're on, any error messages that come up and what measures you've taken so far. The more information we have, the quicker we can get back to you with a solution.

Please note that if a problem is not 'technical' (e.g. not due to a website fault) you should simply email

1.4 What is your data protection policy?

Data Protection Policy:


1.1 During the course of our activities we, The Challenge, will process personal data and sensitive personal data (which may be held on paper, electronically, or otherwise) about our seasonal staff, and we recognise the need to treat it in an appropriate and lawful manner, in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). The purpose of this policy is to make you aware of how we will handle personal and sensitive personal data.


2.1 For the purposes of this policy:

Employee/s means Seasonal  Staff.

Personal Data means recorded information we hold about Employees, Volunteers, Applicants and Participants from which an individual can be identified. It may include contact details, other personal information, photographs, expressions of opinion or indications as to The Challenge’s intentions about the individual.

Sensitive Data means personal data consisting of information about the data subject’s racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs or beliefs of a similar nature, trade union membership, physical or mental health or condition, sexual life, sickness records, interview notes, equal opportunities monitoring form, payroll information, pension scheme, criminal records check, DBS reports.

Processing means doing anything with the data, such as accessing, disclosing, destroying or using the data in any way.


3.1 We will comply with the eight data protection principles in the DPA, which say that Personal Data must be:

(a) Processed fairly and lawfully 

(b) Processed for limited purposes and in an appropriate way

(c) Adequate, relevant and not excessive for the purpose

(d) Accurate

(e) Not kept longer than necessary for the purpose

(f) Processed in line with individuals’ rights

(g) Secure

(h) Not transferred to people or organisations situated in other countries without adequate protection.


4.1 We will usually only process your personal data where you have given your consent or where the processing is necessary to comply  with our legal obligations. In other cases, processing may be necessary for the protection of your vital interests, for our legitimate interests or the legitimate interests of others.

4.2 We will only process ‘sensitive personal data’ about ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or similar beliefs, trade union membership, health, criminal proceedings or convictions, where a further condition is also met. Usually, this will mean that you have given your explicit consent, or that the processing is legally required for employment purposes. The full list of conditions is set out in the DPA.


5.1 We will process data about seasonal staff for legal, personnel, administrative and management purposes and to enable us to meet our legal obligations as an employer, for example, to pay you. monitor your performance and ensure your safety when participating in adventurous activities with our partners.

5.2 We may process sensitive personal data relating to seasonal staff including, as appropriate:

(a) information about an employee’s physical or mental health or condition in order to make decisions as to the employee’s fitness for work (i.e. what activities you can and cannot participate in on the Personal Challenge);

(b) the employee’s racial or ethnic origin or religious or similar information in order to monitor compliance with equal opportunities legislation;

(c) in order to comply with legal requirements and obligations to third parties, such as our partners during the Personal Challenge.


6.1 We will only process your personal data for the specific purpose or purposes notified to you or for any other purposes specifically permitted by the DPA.


7.1 We will keep the personal data we store about you accurate and up to date. Data that is inaccurate or out of date will be destroyed. Please notify us if your personal details change or if you become aware of any inaccuracies in the personal data we hold about you.


8.1 We will not keep your personal data for longer than is necessary for the purpose. This means that data will be destroyed or erased from our systems when it is no longer required.


9.1 You have the right to:

(a) Request access to any personal data we hold about you

(b) Prevent the processing of your data for direct-marketing purposes

(c) Ask to have inaccurate data held about you amended

(d) Prevent processing that is likely to cause unwarranted substantial damage or distress to you or anyone else

(e) Object to any decision that significantly affects you being taken solely by a computer or other automated process.


10.1 We will ensure that appropriate measures are taken against unlawful or unauthorised processing of personal data, and against the accidental loss of, or damage to, personal data.

10.2 We have in place procedures and technologies to maintain the security of all personal data from the point of collection to the point of destruction. We will only transfer personal data to a third part if it agrees with those procedures and policies, or if it puts in place adequate measures itself.

10.3 Maintaining data security means guaranteeing the confidentiality, integrity and availability (for authorised purposes) of the personal data.


11.1 We will disclose your personal data to our partners who have extensive experience in providing adventurous activities. This is solely for your safety. We will not disclose your personal data to other third parties without your consent unless we are satisfied that they are legally entitled to the data. Where we do disclose your personal data to a third party, we will have regard to the eight data protection principles.


12.1 If you wish to know what personal data we hold about you, you must make the request in writing. All such requests should be forwarded to HR.


13.1 If you consider that this policy has not been followed in respect of personal data about yourself or others you should raise the matter with your manager. Any breach of this policy will be taken seriously.

1.5 Why do I need to outline my marketing preferences?

We now require seasonal staff to either 'opt in' or 'opt out' of receiving marketing-based communications from us - this includes notifications when applications for our seasonal roles open for each new programme, monthly alumni newsletters, and news about new paid, longterm opportunities both within NCS The Challenge and with our partner organisations.

If you choose to 'opt out' of receiving these communications, we'll still contact you regarding your job application, and if successful, your assessment, role information and payment details etc.

You can outline your marketing preferences in the 'My Profile' page, and if you change your mind you can update them at any time. 

2. The NCS seasonal programmes

2.1 What is NCS The Challenge?

The Challenge is the UK's leading social integration charity - find out more about us here [link to 'About Us' page]

We are the UK's largest provider of NCS (National Citizen Service). NCS is a seasonal youth and community programme designed to push 15-17 year olds out of their comfort zones and into adulthood through outdoor activities, skills development, community volunteering and social action. We believe that with the right tools, young people can make a real difference in their local communities.

Our seasonal programmes take place outside of term time in the summer (late June to late August) and autumn (October to November half term). Teams of young people take part in our three or four week programme, progressing through the following challenges:

NCS Personal Challenge: Teams come together, build confidence and bond through intense outdoor activities such as abseiling, rafting and hiking during a week away from home.

NCS Team Challenge: Young people return to their local community to stay in university halls. They learn new skills (enterprise, innovation, social media, public speaking & presentations) and use it to build relationships with members of the community.

NCS Real Challenge: Team identify an issue in their local community and design a social action project to tackle it. Once their design is finished, they pitch it to a panel of 'dragons' and take their campaign to the streets.

2.2 Where do we deliver the NCS programme, and how do I know what 'zone' I belong to?

We run the NCS programme in multiple areas of the UK. We break down larger areas into 'zones', which are then divided into clusters of boroughs. When you're contacting us you'll need to know which zone you belong to (in order to contact the right team). Our zones are:

West Midlands: Coventry & Solihull; Sandley, Dudley & Sandwell; North Birmingham; South Birmingham; South & North Warwickshire; Walsall

North West England: Blackburn & Preston; Burnley, Blackpool & Wigan; Bury & Central Manchester; Rochdale, Tameside & Stockport

Yorkshire: Leeds, Bradford & Wakefield

London North East: Redbridge, Havering, Barking & Dagenham and Newham; Waltham Forest, Enfield, Haringey, Hackney and Tower Hamlets

London North West: Barnet, Camden, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham; Hillingdon, Harrow and Brent

London South East: Croydon, Lambeth and Southwark; Greenwich, Bromley, Bexley and Lewisham

London South West: Ealing, Hounslow and Richmond;  Wandsworth, Merton, Kingston and Sutton

Bucks & Berks: Reading and West Berkshire; Wycombe, Slough and Bracknell Forest

Surrey: Woking, Guildford and Spelthorne; Epsom & Ewell, Mole Valley, Elmbridge, Reigate & Banstead and Tandridge

2.3 What are The Challenge's values?

Our Values are available on the organisation website and are listed below.

Local – National
We maximise our local impact, supported by national influence, efficiencies and scale.

•    We use local knowledge to work with our local communities.
•    We seek opportunities to increase the number of people benefiting from our programmes.
•    We work collaboratively across the organisation to support our colleagues, maximise our efficiency and effectiveness.

Challenging – Humble
We strive for continuous improvement, with understanding and respect for all those we work with.

•    We develop by sharing feedback with colleagues and partners.
•    We look for improvements in what we do and how we do it.
•    We seek, understand and respect other people’s point of view.
•    We trust in each other to make the right decisions for The Challenge to support our mission.

Professional – Real
We are true to ourselves, and commit to always perform at our best.

•    We have high standards and take pride in all we do.
•    We learn from our mistakes.
•    We have a warm and approachable culture.

3. My Profile & My Application

3.1 I can't log in - help!

If you're experiencing problems logging in, please check the following:

- Are you using the correct email address? If you're not sure which email you registered with, contact us on
- Is your password correct? Use the 'Forgotten Password' button to retrieve your login details
- Do you have any old accounts on our system? If you've worked with us before, you just need to use your old login details.
- Have you been on the NCS programme as a young person? You'll need to create an account with a different email address (you're confusing our system!)

If you've checked all of the above and still can't login, please contact

3.2 I'm having trouble registering my details - what should I do?

If you're having trouble registering your details it's most likely because we already have a profile for you on our system:

a) I already signed up via your online form OR I attended a careers event and provided contact details: You can access your profile by entering your email address in the login page and clicking on 'Forgotten Password' - you'll be emailed a link to retrieve a temporary password, which you'll be prompted to change once you're logged in. If you're not sure what email address you've registered with, email us on

b) I've worked on the NCS programme previously and would like to return to work: You won't need to make a new account - just use the same email address and password as before. Once you're logged in you can update your profile and start a new application.

3.3 How do I change my password?

If you're already logged in to the staffing portal, you can change your password on the 'My Profile' page. If you're not logged in, you can change your password by clicking on 'Forgotten password' and clicking on the link in the triggered email.

The first time you log in to the staffing portal you'll be automatically taken to the 'change password' page.

3.4 I don't have a National Insurance (NI) number - what should I do?

If you don't have an NI number, you'll need to apply for one as soon as possible - we can't let you work on the NCS programme until you have one. In the meantime, you please contact Central Staffing on to continue your NCS application.

3.5 Where can I find role descriptions and start dates?

You can find job descriptions for all of our roles on at

If you scroll to the bottom of each job description, you'll find all of the potential work dates for the role you're looking at. These work dates will be broken down into 'waves' and sections (PC, TC, RCD, RCA) - you'll need to be available for a full row of dates.

Please note that some roles will not be available on all seasonal programmes, and start dates can vary based on location. For more information, contact us on

3.6 Can I apply for multiple roles and locations?

Yes! We encourage staff to apply for all roles that they think they're suitable for. If your application is successful, at your assessment we'll bear in mind all of our seasonal roles to decide which one you're best suited to. Following your assessment, the role we conditionally offer you is our final decision.

We also encourage applicants to select as many locations as possible - the more flexible you are, the more likely you'll be offered multiple work placements - however, you must be able to find your own accommodation in any area you select, and pay for your own travel to and from the start venue for your placement.

3.7 My application won't save - what do I do?

There are a few reasons why your application might not be saving:

a) You have not filled in all of the answer fields: questions marked with a blue (*) are compulsory and the application will not save or submit without them. Please go back and answer any questions you've left blank.

b) You're writing too much in your answer: all of our long written-answer questions have a limit of 1,000 characters - this is roughly 250 words (but it depends on the length of the words you're using!). Please go back and cut down your answers to meet these requirements.

c) Your broadband is slow: sometimes our 'conditional' questions (i.e. questions asking for further details following a 'yes' answer) have trouble loading if the user's internet is slow. This means that you won't have completed the whole form. If possible, please try to connect to a different broadband, and make sure you're using either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. If this is not possible, try accessing the application form during a non-peak time - generally broadband providers have the most activity in the evening.

d) A technical glitch has occurred: if an error message pops up when you try to save or submit your application, our website is experiencing a technical issue. Please submit a 'help' query, ideally with a printscreen of the error message.

3.8 I was previously on the NCS programme as a young person, and I'm now having trouble applying for a seasonal role.

We welcome applications from our NCS Graduates (as long as you're over 18, or turning 18 before 1st May 2018). However, sometimes our system gets confused when you already have a 'young person' account with the same email address.

The easiest way to get around this is to sign up with a different email address. If this isn't possible, contact us on for support.

3.9 I am under 18, can I apply for a paid seasonal role?

If you're going to turn 18 before 1st May 2018 you'll be able to apply for a seasonal role with us. If you're not going to turn 18 by this date we won't be able to accept an application from you.

Are you an NCS Graduate? Get in touch with the Grads team on to see what opportunities they have available.

3.10 I have additional needs and require reasonable adjustments - what can you do?

We are an equal opportunities employer and welcome applications from all candidates.

On the final page of the application form we encourage you to disclose details of your needs and any adjustments or assistance you might need at assessment and on the programme. Please complete this section as fully as possible.

If you require our application form in a different format (e.g. printed paper copy), or would like to discuss your needs with a member of our Inclusion Staffing team, please get in touch with our confidential inclusion helpline:

Any information you disclose will be treated confidentially, and will not affect how your application is reviewed. We'll only share this information on a need-to-know basis.  

4. Assessments

4.1 Do I need to attend an assessment?

New applicants: if you're applying to work on the NCS programme for the first time and your application is successful, you'll be invited to one of our group assessments. Our assessment format allows us to determine whether or not you are suitable to undertake any of our seasonal roles. Assessments are mandatory for all new candidates.

Returners (2015 - 2017) applying for a different role: you may need to attend an assessment, depending on the role you're applying for. Your staffing team will indicate whether or not you'll need to reassess.

Returners (2015 - 2017) applying for the same role: you won't need to assess again!

If you worked with us in 2014 or earlier you will need to attend an assessment as our roles have changed quite a lot since then!

4.2 I am unable to attend an assessment in person. Can I have a Sykpe interview?

Unfortunately we can't carry out interviews over Skype. We assess candidates in groups for two reasons; a) it allows us to assess as many people as possible for our roles, and b) it allows us to use activities such as role plays, group discussions and presentations to get an idea of how you'll react in certain scenarios.

We strongly recommend that you make yourself available for one of the assessment dates offered, where possible. If you're definitely unable to attend any of our latest group assessment dates (e.g. if you're out of the country), but may be able to attend one later in the year you should contact your local staffing team to discuss your options.

4.3 I can't make anyof the assessment dates / there are no dates available. What should I do?

The majority of our group assessments will run from January to April. During this time, you should be given at least two or three assessment dates to choose from on the staffing portal. We strongly recommend that you make yourself available for one of the dates offered to you.

If you're definitely unable to make any of these dates you have the option to fill out an 'alternative dates' form. We'll do our best to contact you with a different assessment date which fits in with your availability, but we can't guarantee this.

If you're trying to book onto an assessment in April or May, you might find that there are no assessment dates available on the staffing portal. This may not mean that there are no more assessments running, so it's worth calling your local staffing team and seeing if they have any late assessments they can book you onto.

We limit the number of assessments for each role gradually as we fill up our vacancies - therefore, the later you apply for a role and the later you're invited to an assessment, the fewer dates you'll have to choose from.

4.4 What are the assessments like?

When we review your application we'll decide which type of role we think you're best suited to, and invite you to assess for a group of roles. Following your assessment, if you're successful we'll offer you one role. This decision is final, and you won't be able to apply for any other roles.

Our group assessments run for about four hours, and we generally invite around 30 people. The assessment's broken down into various activities, such as group workshops, speeches, role plays and discussions. Depending on the roles your assessing for, you'll be asked to prepare some kind of activity before hand - please refer to your chosen assessment on the 'Booking assessments' page.

Each activity is designed to assess how you'll react in certain scenarios and help us decide which of our seasonal roles you're best suited to.

4.5 What do I need to bring to my assessment?

Depending on your assessment, you'll be asked to prepare a either a presentation/speech, workshop or icebreakers beforehand. To find out what you need to prepare, click on your registered event on the 'Booking Assessments' page or refer to your booking confirmation email.

Dress code: please wear smart-casual, comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear. Although the entire assessment takes place indoors, some activities do involve a degree of physical activity.

Documents you MUST bring
Please make a note of the following documents you must bring to the assessment - we need these in order to:

a) Confirm your Right To Work in the UK - the most common document is a UK passport (which can also be used to prove your identity). If you don't have a UK passport, please check other valid document types that can be used on the website.

b) Confirm your identity - please also bring a form of photo identification. The most common forms of ID are passports (any nationality) or driving licenses.

Please note that we will not accept photocopies, only original documents. During your assessment your documents will be checked and scanned by a member of the staffing team. If your documents are not checked at assessment, we will check them at training instead.

4.6 What happens after the assessment?

We'll contact you by email with the outcome of your assessment within 2-3 weeks of the assessment date. If you don't hear anything after 3 weeks please contact your local staffing team.

If you're successful, your email will contain a conditional job offer for the role we'd like you to take on this year, and instructions for how to apply for a new DBS certificate (if you need one). It will also indicate which sections of the staffing portal you'll now need to fill out - e.g. the Essential Information and availability pages.

5. Job offers and Availability

5.1 I have been offered a 'conditional' role - what does this mean?

If you're successful at assessment, you'll be 'conditionally' offered a role on the programme. This role offer is dependent on you completing the following:

1. DBS: You must have a valid DBS certificate, dated from 1st January 2017. This can either be your current DBS from another employer, or applied for through The Challenge. We’ll be in touch with further information about what level of check is required for your role.

2. References: You must have two satisfactory references no later than 2 weeks prior to your start date.

3. Availability: You'll need to keep your availability up to date on the Staffing Portal - we'll use this information to match you to a vacant role in your preferred location.

4. Training: All seasonal staff are required to attend up to 2.5 days of training for their role; more details to follow in April/May!

Please note: we can't always guarantee you a placement in your preferred location. The more flexible you can be in regards to your work dates and locations, the more likely you are to be allocated to a vacancy.

5.2 I have been offered a role, but it isn't my preferred one. Why is this?

When you attend a group assessment with us, our Staffing Associates and Programmes Assessors bear in mind all of our seasonal roles, not necessarily just the one(s) you've applied for. We do this to ensure that each candidate is matched to the right seasonal role, which their skills, experience and personality suit best. Therefore, it might be that after your assessment you're offered a different role than you were expecting.

In general, this decision is final, and you won't be able to try out for another role. However, if you're concerned that the role you've been offered doesn't fit well with your availability over the summer you're welcome to discuss this with your Staffing Associate (contact details will be at the bottom of your 'offer' email).

5.3 Where can I see the exact work dates for my role?

You can see an overview of the work dates for your chosen role on the job description. Head to and click on your role to download the job description in PDF form.

If you’re taking on one of our fixed-term core roles (e.g. Delivery Programme Manager) this summer, your start and end dates will be communicated to you by your Programmes team.

5.4 I'm free for a whole wave, except for one working day. Can I still choose this wave as a preference?

No - please only select waves that you are fully available for! We cannot allocate you to a wave if you’re not free for one or more of the work days.

5.5 I'm going to be unavailable for more than a week over the NCS summer programme. What do I need to do?

If you're going on holiday or know you'll be unavailable for longer than three days over the summer, please let your Staffing Associate know. Please also make sure you don't select any of the waves your absent period runs through in the 'Choosing when I can work' page. We'll make sure we don't bother you during this period, and we'll do our best to prioritise you for the waves that you're fully available for!

5.6 My availability has changed - what do I need to do?

Please make sure you keep your availability as up-to-date as possible in the 'Choosing when I can work’  page on the Staffing Portal. This section will remain open for you until a couple of weeks before you start your role.

If your change in availability will affect a work placement you've been allocated to you should contact your Staffing Associate immediately!

6. Disclosure and Barring Service

1. What is DBS?

DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service. They are a government body who provide criminal record checks and safeguarding information to employers. They help employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups such as children and young people.

For more information, please visit the Government's DBS webpage.

2. Why do I need a DBS check?

All of our seasonal staff undergoa DBS check so that we can ascertain their suitability to work with young people on our programme.

All of our seasonal roles are within the defined activities which require our staff to legally complete a DBS check. At the end of a DBS check you will receive a DBS certificate.

3. How do I obtain a DBS certificate?

There are two routes for seasonal staff to obtain a DBS certificate:

1. Apply for a new DBS check through The Challenge and our external partner GB Group
2. Provide an existing DBS check from a previous employment

Once offered a role, you will be instructed on what's needed of you in the Essential Information section on the Staffing Portal.

4. I want to provide an existing DBS certificate from a previous job. How do I do this?

We accept DBS certificates that you may have obtained through a previous job as long as it meets the minimum level of check needed for your role.

If you choose to use your existing DBS certificate, you will need to consent to us obtaining and using this data on the Staffing Portal. You'll need to make a clear scanned/photographed copy of your DBS and upload it to the DBS page (in the Essential Information section). We'll use this scan to check your certificate is valid to use on the programme, and if it is, we'll also need to witness the original paper copy in person. We'll then delete the scanned copy before you start your role, in accordance with our privacy policy.

In the event that your DBS is not valid to use on the programme, we will delete the scan you provided with us immediately. You may be encouraged to apply for a new DBS via our partner organisation GB Group.

5. My existing DBS certificate is registered on the DBS update service. What do I need to do?

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) update service lets applicants keep their DBS certificates up to date online and allows employers to check a certificate online also.

This is a service which only recipients of a DBS can sign up to. It allows candidates to apply for a DBS of a particular level once and then run checks on the same certificate later to see if it has been 'updated' with new information.

Those that are on the update service must have a certificate that is valid from 17th June 2013 and it must meet the minimum level of check for your role (if it doesn't fit this criteria, you'll need to apply for a new DBS certificate through our partner organisation GB Group).

If you meet the criteria above, you must upload a scan/photograph of your certificate to the Staffing Portal and ensure you label the file name "DBS update service". You will only be able to upload a scan/photo of the certificate after you've consented to us using this information in the Essential Information section.

Once we carry out the check, we will update your profile and we will need to witness the paper certificate in person at training.

6.6 How do I apply for a new DBS?

The Challenge will pay for DBS checks for all seasonal staff who are offered a role on the NCS programme - you'll find instructions on how to apply in the Disclosure and Barring Service section under 'Essential Information'. Please note you can only do this after being offered a role.

The online DBS application requires you to have up to five forms of ID to hand; you'll also need to take these documents, along with your DBS application 'summary page' to the Post Office to be verified within a time limit.

7. The 'Essential Information' section

7.1 Who can I use as a reference?

Before we can let you work on the NCS programme, we need to receive satisfactory references from:

(a) Two referees (if you are a new applicant) OR

(b) One referee (if you're a returning staff member from 2017)

Your referee(s) should:

- Know you from an employment, voluntary or educational background
- Be able to comment on your character, performance and ability (not all companies do this - please check their references policy)

They should NOT:

- Be a member of The Challenge's core staff
- Be a family member or friend
- Be anyone who isn't willing to give a reference for you - check first!

7.2 I've been asked to update my referee(s) details. Why?

If you've been asked to update a referee, it will either be because:

a) We've tried contacting them (multiple times) and haven't been able to get through
b) They're an unsuitable referee

You should receive a communication from us explaining why you need to update your referees, and what exactly you need to do. If this still isn't clear, please contact your local Staffing team.

7.3 When do I need to provide my bank and tax details?

You'll be able to enter your bank details and tax information from April 2018 (when the new tax year begins) - it's up to you to ensure that these details are correct; if they aren't you may be paid late or incorrectly.

We input bank details (and tax information) into our payroll system for all staff working on the programme between 3-4 weeks before the start of the first wave of the summer. At the point of input, we will lock down all of our details so that they are uneditable. 

7.4 How do I submit my tax information?

You can either send in your latest P45 paper form (if it is dated from April 2018) or you can make a 'tax declaration' on the Staffing Portal.

Tax declarations

You'll be presented with three statements - please select the statement which best reflects your employment and income status as it will be when you start your seasonal role. We'll use this statement to generate a tax code for you; make sure you read the statements carefully!

Send in a P45 Form

If you have a P45 Form dated from 1st April 2018, please send it to our payroll partners Evolution Recruitment - for further details, please head to the 'Tax Information' page under the Essential Information section.

The Challenge cannot answer questions about tax - if you're unsure what to do on the tax section, please refer to the HMRC website for more information.

7.5 Can I be paid into an international bank account?

Unfortunately, we cannot pay staff salaries into international bank accounts. If you are a non-UK applicant, please open a UK bank account ahead of starting your role and input the details fro this account in the Essential Information section.

7.6 Why do I need to provide an emergency contact?

We ask our seasonal staff to provide us with details for an emergency contact as a precaution. You'll need to name someone who knows you well, and who will be in the UK whilst you're on your work placement.

7.7 What is the Sensitive Information section?

The Sensitive Information section is only active for Support Workers and Personal Coaches, and is as part of the Inclusion Staffing team's staff-young person 'matching' process.

Sensitive and confidential information about the young person you'll be supporting will be sent to you via this section.

8. Health, Safety & Inclusion

8.1 I have additional needs. What happens to information I disclose in the Health, Safety & Inclusion form

We encourage all candidates to disclose any additional needs they might have so that we can make reasonable adjustments to the NCS programme for them.

When you disclose details of your additional needs on our application form, this information goes directly to our Health, Welfare & Disability (HWD) Service, who will then contact you to discuss how best we can support you in your role.

Any information you provide us with will be treated confidentially, and will be stored and subsequently deleted in accordance with our privacy policy.

For more information, please contact our Health, Welfare & Disability Service on

8.2 What kind of reasonable adjustments can be put in place for me?

We'll use any information you disclose in the Health, Safety & Inclusion form to assess how best we can support you on the NCS programme.

For more information, and examples of reasonable adjustments we can put in place, please head to our Health, Welfare and Disability pages.

8.3 Why do I need to disclose if I'm pregnant?

We'd like to know if you're pregnant just to check that the programme is as safe as possible for you. If you're working on the first week of the programme (NCS: Personal Challenge), you may not be able to participatein some of the outdoors activities.

We'll also be able to put in place other reasonable adjustments for you, such as additional breaks in the work day.

9. Role training

9.1 I am doing my seasonal role for the first time this year - what training do I need to do?

If you are taking on one of the following roles for the first time (e.g. if you're a new applicant, or if you're a returning staff member taking on a different role), you'll need to attend our two-day 'new staff training':

- Programme Leader
- Assistant Programme Leader
- Senior Mentor
- Support Worker
- Personal Coach

You'll find that our training sessions are paired and individual dates are named 'Day 1' and 'Day 2' - it's important that you attend these days in the correct order. If you're unable to attend both sessions in a pair, you'll need to contact your Staffing Associate to be booked onto alternative dates manually.

If you're carrying out either the Workshop Facilitator or Public Speaking Coach role, you'll only need to attend one day of 'Facilitator training'.

9.2 I am a returning member of staff doing the same role again - what training do I need to do?

If you're a returning staff member and are carrying out the same role as last year, you'll only need to attend one day of 'returner training'. This training will recap on the NCS programme, cover any changes to the programme for this year, and offer you a chance to take part in various workshops to improve on a particular skill.

9.3 What is ‘Leader Conversion Training’, and am I eligible?

This year we are trialing a new ‘Leader Conversion Training’ for new Leaders who were previously Senior Mentors, Support Workers or Personal Coaches last year. This is a single day of training, focusing on getting you ready for your leader role.

We’re only running a few of these sessions across our regions, so places are limited*. We’ll be offering spaces on a first come, first served basis, so get in touch with your local Staffing team as soon as possible.

*If we don’t have space for you on a Leader Conversion session you’ll need to attend full new-role training (2 days) instead.

9.4 I’ve booked onto a training event but it’s been declined. What do I need to do?

Most new staff (except Workshop Facilitators and Public Speaking Coaches) are required to attend two days of training over a weekend. If you've received an email notifying you that your booking has been 'auto-declined', it's most likely because you've attempted to book onto training dates which are not part of a pair.

It's important that you attend 'Day 1' and 'Day 2' chronologically and in the same weekend. If this isn't possible, you'll need to be discuss your options with a member of the Staffing team.

9.5 Do I need to attend First Aid training?

Programme Leaders, Assistant Programme Leaders, Assistant Programme Managers (Delivery) and Residential Programme Coordinators must have valid First Aid certificates in order to work on the NCS programme. If you don't have a valid First Aid certificate, you'll need to contact your local Staffing team to be booked onto a half-day training session (on top of your role training). 

9.6 Is my existing First Aid certificate/training valid?

In order for your existing First Aid certificate to be approved by The Challenge, it needs to be dated from 1st September 2015 (no more than 3 years old), and should have covered the following content:

- Drowning
- Diabetes
- Epilepsy
- Defibrillation (awareness only - no practical)
- Burns
- Bleeding
- Anaphylaxis

If you're unsure if your training covered all of these subjects, it's best to attend one of our half-day First Aid sessions ahead of your role starting!

9.7 Do I need to do a Food Safety course?

Only Residential Programme Coordinators are required to complete an online Food Safety course for their role. If you've been conditionally offered a role as an RPC this year, you should receive a login to the Food Safety course from your local staffing team soon. If you haven't received this, please get in touch with your Staffing Associate as soon as possible!

9.8 What do I need to bring to training?

Right To Work in the UK: If we haven't already seen your RTW documents at your assessment, you'll need to bring them with you to your training session (if you're attending two sessions, you'll only need to bring it to the first session). Usually, just your passport will suffice, but you can check which RTW documents you need to bring here. Please note that we'll make a scanned copy of your documents for our own records.

Existing DBS certificates: If you're using an existing DBS certificate (i.e. you didn't apply for it through us), you'll need to bring the original paper copy to your role training. You MUST have uploaded a scan of this before attending training so we can review validity - if you do not you may need to bring your certificate in again for us to witness. In exceptional cases we will be may take a temporary scan of your DBS.

Food & refreshments: we will provide lunch and snacks throughout the day, so don’t worry about bringing your own food. We’ll also have a water urn and tea and coffee available - please bring your own water bottle and mug to your training session(s) so we don’t need to waste too much plastic!

9.9 What should I wear to training?

There's no set dress code for our training sessions, although we recommend wearing comfortable clothes and shoes!

9.10 How can I give feedback on my training session?

Role training is a hugely important part of your role, and we want to make sure all of our seasonal staff feel fully prepared for their roles after attending training. We'll be sending out feedback surveys after each training session - any feedback you give us will help us to ensure that our training is always relevant and concise! 

You'll find a link to our feedback form in your 'training confirmation' email, and on the Booking Training page on the portal after your session. If you can't find the link, please contact your Staffing team.

10. The 'My Role' section

10.1 When will the ‘My Role’ section be available?

The ‘My Role’ section only becomes available once you have a confirmed work placement on one of our waves. This will be following a conversation with your Staffing Associate.

If you’re waiting to hear about your work dates, please see FAQ 10.2.

10.2 When will I be allocated to a 'wave' or work placement?

Our Staffing teams are working around the clock to allocate all of our 2018 seasonal staff to job placements in their preferred waves and locations - it can be a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, so bear with us!

If you haven’t heard from your Staffing Associate about work dates, it’s best to contact them directly - their email and phone numbers will be at the bottom of your job offer email.

10.3 I’ve been confirmed to work on a wave. Where can I find my placement information?

Congratulations! You’ll be able to view your work timetable and role resources in the ‘My Role’ section on the Staffing Portal.

You’ll also need to ‘sign’ or respond to your contract before you can start your role. You’ll be able to download your own copy of your work contract, which we recommend you do for future reference.

10.4 How do I ‘sign’ my contract?

You need to ‘sign’ an individual contract for each/any waves you’re working on this summer. You contract(s) can be found on the ‘My Role’ page, by clicking on the individual wave link.

At the bottom of the page, you’ll see the following options/responses - you just need to select one and ‘save’.

The contract you sign on the Staffing Portal also contains a code of conduct. At your role training, you’ll be asked to sign a paper copy of this too.

10.5 My timetable is missing the venue information - what do I do?

Our Programmes teams are still in the process of confirming some of our programme venues. If your timetable is missing this information, please make sure you check back the week before your start date.

10.6 I’m missing a timetable for one of my waves. What should I do?

If you’ve been confirmed a role on a wave, but it’s missing from your ‘My Role’ section, get in touch with your Staffing Associate as soon as possible - you can find your Associate’s contact details on your job offer email.

10.7 Where can I find The Challenge's policies (e.g. data protection, safeguarding, complaints)?

We have a range of documents outlining The Challenge's seasonal staff employment policies and T&Cs. These are all hosted in our Contract Appendices and cover:

- Health and Safety
- Keeping everyone safe
- Privacy policy
- Absence policy
- Grievance & Disciplinary policy
- Safeuarding
- Data Protection

If you have any questions about our employment policies, please get in touch with your local Staffing team directly.

11. Payments, advances & tax

11.1 When will I be paid for my summer role?

The table below shows the payment dates for each wave this summer. In order to ensure that seasonal staff aren’t waiting too long between finishing their roles and receiving payment, several of our waves have ‘advance’ payments in place. You can find out more about advances in FAQ 11.2.

Wave number

Payment Date

Advance Date





































11.2 What are 'advance' payments?

We’ve set up advance payments ahead of each wave’s formal payment date to ensure that seasonal staff don’t have to wait too long between finishing their wave/role and getting paid.

Advances constitute 70% of your total pay for the wave. You won’t receive a payslip for this payment.

You’ll then receive the remaining 30% of your pay on the formal payment date. The tax for your gross pay (the full 100%) will be deducted from this payment. 

11.3 Why have I been sent a payslip reading £0.00?

On each payroll date, some seasonal staff will receive a payslip reading £0.00 - this is known as a ‘zero payslip’.

This occurs if you have not worked on the relevant waves for the payroll month, but are still registered on our payroll (because you’re set to work on future waves).

E.g. if you’re working on wave 1 (paid in July) and wave 10 (paid in September), you may receive a zero payslip on the August payment date.

If you receive a zero payslip you don’t need to do anything, unless you think a payment is missing. If you feel you’re missing a payment, please get in touch with your Staffing Associate as soon as possible.

11.4 I think I’ve been incorrectly taxed - what should I do?

We generate a tax code for you based on the tax declaration you’ve made (or your P45 Form details) in the Essential Information section - this tax code is then used to deduct the correct tax from your gross pay. This system is effectively the same as completing a P46 Form.

If you feel that you’ve been tax incorrectly, this could be because:

You didn’t make a tax declaration, in which case you will have been put on an emergency tax code
HMRC have sent us a tax code update for you (this could be for a number of reasons, e.g. if you have previously been undertaxed)
You selected the wrong tax declaration for your current circumstances

We regret that The Challenge is unable to assist with tax queries, and advise you to contact HMRC directly.

Call HMRC on 0300 200 3300 and quote The Challenge’s PAYE reference number:

Please note that all individuals paid in the UK, including students, have to make this declaration and pay some degree of tax.

11.5 I’m a student - why have I been taxed?

Students are no longer exempt from paying income tax if they earn over a certain amount:

  • You have a Personal Allowance of £958 - you’ll have to pay income tax on anything you earn on top of this.
  • All students who earn more than £157 in a week must make National Insurance payments.

You may be eligible to claim a refund if you won’t continue to earn a monthly salary this high after your employment with us ends. We regret that The Challenge are unable to assist with tax queries or reclaims; you’ll need to contact HMRC directly (quote our PAYE reference number 120/MB59383).

11.6 What expenses can I claim whilst on the programme?

We’re happy to cover any reasonable expenses you incur whilst you’re carrying out your role - for example, your travel between NCS residential and partner venues.

We will not reimburse you for travel costs to- and from the programme (to your home), as this is not covered in our policy.

To find out more about our expenses policy, please contact your local Staffing team.

11.7 When will my expenses be reimbursed?

The table below outlines when you can expect your approved expenses to be reimbursed.

Please note, all expenses need to be submitted via the correct expense form for your wave. You will be notified by email when your programmes team have approved them, and again when your expenses have been paid. 


Approved by:

Reimbursed on:
















11.8 What do I need to know about Workplace Pension auto-enrollment?

Due to new auto-enrolment legislation, employees of The Challenge, including seasonal staff, will be enrolled in a workplace pension scheme. This is a way of saving for your retirement that's arranged by your employer. For further information about the workplace pension scheme, please go to

What does auto-enrolment mean?

Auto-enrolment means that if you fulfil certain criteria for a pension you will automatically be deducted a payment for pension from your salary (criteria below). If you do not want to be in the pension scheme then you can choose to opt out. However, you can only do so once you have been auto-enrolled and the first pension deduction has been made.  Auto enrolment does not take place until the fourth pay period (or greater) so there is at least a period of three months between your first salary payment and first pension deduction (subject to criteria stated below).

What are the criteria for auto-enrolment?

Not all staff will be automatically enrolled. You must fit all the criteria which are explained below.

  • Aged between 22 and state pension age
  • Included in at least two pay periods (paid in two separate monthly payrolls) over a four month period
  • Within these two pay periods earn more than £833 in each payroll month

Example 1

Payroll Month

Were you paid?

Pay Period












4 -  a pension payment is deducted if you also fit the other criteria

Example 2

Payroll Month

Were you paid?

Pay Period















5 - a pension payment is deducted if you also fit the other criteria

Pension deduction does not actually take place until a minimum of three months after your first payroll.

What happens next?

If you fit the criteria above we will email you 5 days prior to the payroll date when pension deductions take place. We will provide all the necessary information you need to opt-out. You will then be able to opt-out of any following pension deductions. If you opt-out within one month of the pension deduction then you will be refunded the value of the contribution within 1-2 months; this is all dependent on how quickly Peoples Pension processes your information.
Pension deductions amount to very little and will be no more than 1% of your qualifying earning for that month. Qualifying earnings are everything you earn after £486.00 per month.

How do I opt-out?

You will need an opt-out form from The People's Pension. You can obtain a form by emailing You can return your completed form to the same email address.
Staff will have a one month opt-out period: i.e. you can opt out one month from the date of enrolment. After this 1 month period you cannot claim your money from that month back but you can still opt out for future months.

What other information do I need to know?

We will be processing P45s from October 2018. Once you have been sent a P45 your employment with us has ended. If you are then re-employed with us after this has happened pensions deductions are reset and you will then enter into a pay period 1 again.

12. Autumn 2018

12.1 How is the Autumn programme different to the Summer programme?

The NCS Autumn programme is a shorter, condensed version of our summer programme, which runs during October and November. This year, we will be running Autumn waves during the October half term, and some waves during school term-time with participating schools.

For general information about the programme, please navigate through the above FAQs. 

12.2 Which roles are we recruiting for the Autumn programme?

As the Autumn programme is run on a much smaller scale compared to summer, there are limited spaces in all locations for the following roles:

- Programme Leader

- Assistant Programme Leader

- Senior Mentor

- Support Worker

- Workshop Facilitator

- Public Speaking Coach

12.3 What are the work dates for the Autumn programme?

The NCS Autumn programme is running over the following waves:









8 - 11 Oct

12, 15 & 16 Oct

17 - 18 Oct

19 & 22 Oct


West Midlands

15 - 18 Oct

19, 22 & 23 Oct

24 - 25 Oct

26 & 29 Oct


All locations (half term)

20 - 23 Oct

25 - 27 Oct

3 - 4 Nov

10 & 17 Nov


All locations (half term)

27 - 30 Oct

1 - 3 Nov

10 - 11 Nov

17 & 24 Nov


London (North East only)

30 Oct - 2 Nov

5 - 7 Nov

8 - 9 Nov

12 - 13 Nov



5 - 8 Nov

9, 12 & 13 Nov

14 - 15 Nov

16 & 19 Nov



5 - 8 Nov

12 - 14 Nov

17 - 18 Nov

24 - 25 Nov



9 - 12 Nov

14 - 16 Nov

19 - 20 Nov

21 - 22 Nov


West Midlands

12 - 15 Nov

16 - 20 Nov

21 - 22 Nov

23 - 26 Nov



12 - 15 Nov

19 - 21 Nov

22 - 23 Nov

26 - 27 Nov


West Midlands

12 - 15 Nov

19 - 21 Nov

26 - 27 Nov

3 - 4 Dec

12.4 When will I be paid for my autumn role?

The table below shows all of the payment dates for our 2019 Autumn waves. Please note some waves have two payment dates

Advances: On 'advance' dates, you will receive the first 70% of your pay.  This first amount will not be subject to tax and NI deductions. Then, on the formal 'payment date' you will receive the remaining 30% - please note your tax and NI contributions for your total pay will be taken from this amount.

Wave Number

Payment Date

Advance Date