The NCS Challenge is a heavily-subsidised scheme involving volunteering, a residential trip, and presentation/group working skills. For an admin payment of about £50 you get a residential activity stay and training which is subsidised by at least £1,000 per person by the government. It could be particularly useful for home-educated students to show that they have experience of group work and can handle novel social situations, though of course you may already have other activities on your CV which show that you have these skills. NCS is easy for anyone the target age to access by signing up on the website. NCS The Challenge Facebook page is a good way to see what people are actually doing on the NCS schemes. UCAS blog on NCS - My Experience
Comment 1:"My HE daughter has just done this. It was £50 but seemed well worth it and was for 4 weeks. She had 2 different weeks away and 2 weeks in our town doing community things. Seems very well worth the money and her time ."
Comment 2:"I have one friend whose sons (ex-home ed, then at school) attended NCS. My friend said it was 'one big jolly' during which her boys didn't seem to do anything particularly useful. She thought it had been a complete waste of time. Obviously, opportunities and activities vary according to area, so others' experiences might be different!"
Comment 3: "When mine did it they went away for five days team building then came back for the weekend. Then they did another 5 days away team building. They then came back and planned a community fundraiser for a charity of their choice for a week and in the last week carried it out."
From a Reddit commenter:
"I spent one week at PGL - ice breaker activities, get to meet everyone and spend time together. A lot of fun, probably the best week.
Next was a week at a scout camp. We had talks about personal finance, interview skills etc. Not as exciting as the first week but valuable nonetheless.
The final two weeks were probably the best in terms of UCAS and personal statements. We planned and took part in a group project, entirely by ourselves. To someone reading a personal statement it really jumps out with many traits - things like independence blah blah whatever. Plus you get to do good for your community, helping out a food bank in my case was rewarding in itself.
Seriously, for the price it's an absolute steal. Much easier and more fun than work experience, very rewarding, and hey, I'm still good friends with a lot of the people I met on there."