About Us

Our History

2005 2005
2007 2007
2008 2008
2010 2010
2013 2013
2015 2015
2017 2017


Inspired by participating in a Guildford YMCA “India Project’ Rob, Cathy and Isaac visit India to see whether there is scope for further projects 


Chennai Challenge is formed and a team of 6 people visit Chennai to work with the YMCA and donate funds to the development of 3 YMCA community centres 


A new relationship is built with partner organisation Oasis India.


Our first double team projectwith over 20 team members joining us in Chennai 


We celebrate the First 50 people to take part in Chennai Challenge as team members 


A new structure is developed with longer term volunteer roles in communications and fundraising 


A new strategic approach focused on supporting people to contribute to society is developed

Our Approach

Everything we do is designed around the principle that people are at their best when they are contributing. We want people to be the best that they can be, so our projects are designed to support people to give back.

Volunteer Led

Everyone who works on Chennai Challenge from our team members to our CEO is a volunteer. We all give our time, skills and energy for free because we share the belief that people are at their best when they contribute or give back.

Local Partners

We partner with local organisations in Chennai. We are only in India for a short time every year, but our partners are there all the time. They understand the context, and their programmes are part of long term plans to support the communities they work in. We work closely with our partners to make sure that everything we do contributes to these long term goals.

Personal Development

We work with our team members to help them create personal development plans. Each plan is unique to the team member for whom it is created, but ultimately all will be designed to help people give back – through their Chennai Challenge project and in their future lives.

Our Partners

Central to our approach is working with local partners who know the area and supporting their existing work. This allows us to ensure our contribution is sustainable and focused on detailed understanding of the local context.

Madras YMCA

The YMCA is a global movement supporting people to grow in body, mind and spirit. The Madras YMCA is our founding partner. Amongst other projects, the YMCA run 3 community centres, 2 schools and a home for destitute boys.

Oasis India

Oasis India focus on building communities where everyone is included. They run 2 hubs in poor communities in Chennai, delivering training, development and education projects. These projects include English lessons, tailoring courses and sport’s projects for children.

Our Funding

All our funding comes from donations, and the majority is from team members. Each team member raises a minimum of £1500 as a part of their Chennai Challenge experience. In 2017, here is how our money came in and how we spent it:

Our Team

Chennai Challenge is a registered charity in England & Wales. We are led by a board of volunteer trustees, and a staff team of volunteers responsible for every part of Chennai Challenge. Volunteer staff are recruited on a one or two-year agreement, and the roles allow for people to gain personal and professional development opportunities as well as support Chennai Challenge’s work.

Isaac Jones
CEO and co-founder. Isaac has worked in the charity sector for over 10 years. The thing he loves most about Chennai Challenge is seeing people realise their own potential.
Connect with Isaac
Cathy Short
Cathy is an experienced youth worker. She fell in love with Chennai when she first visited in 2001, and is excited about introducing new people to India’s rich culture.
Connect with Cathy
Rob Short
Co-Founder & Trustee
Rob is a Chemistry teacher. He is one of the co-founders and our Senior Project Leader. He loves taking new people to India and supporting their experience on Chennai Challenge.
Connect with Rob

Our Impact

As a registered charity, we have to report to the Charity Commission on the money we’ve raised, how we have spent it and the impact we’ve had. You can access our reports from the last 3 years below.