LCET is first and foremost a local project, set up by a group of forty-five churches in 1993, to reconnect the Christian community with young people and make a positive difference to their lives. From the beginning, the project has focused on work in education with young people aged between 11 and 19.
In the early days, LCET had just one member of staff working from a borrowed office in a local church. But demand for input from schools soon meant growth and within a few years, LCET had three members in the team and a growing group of volunteers.
IsNotWas, a youth event in 1994 attracted over 1,000 young people, and became the first of a series of special youth events that continue to this day. It also began a reputation for innovative and wildly creative ideas. Snow in summer, vicars in a gladiatorial contest and motorbikes tearing up the aisle, are now the stuff of legends!
By 2000, a team of eight paid staff were working across almost all of the town's secondary schools and in the local sixth form college. Around 8,000 young people in the town participated in an assembly, lesson or other programme run by LCET every year. The project also organised several overseas trips to provide practical help in the developing world.
In 2001 LCET moved from its cramped offices at the back of a church into a new youth centre in the heart of the town. The b.1 cafe provided space to expand the activities outside of school and gave the staff team the office space they needed. The building, on three floors, was renovated from a dilapidated state through the generosity of local companies and with the help of church volunteers. The stunning result, a modern and well-equipped youth centre, enabled the development of a whole range of new programmes and expanded the project still further.
In 2005 LCET's work with young people received national acclaim through an art exhibition, 'Hear Me', by local young people who self harmed. The interest in the project led to further funding and eventually to the establishment of selfharm.co.uk, a national project to support young people who self harm, and to provide information for parents and professionals.
In 2007, LCET launched schoolswork.co.uk, a project to support Christian work in schools across the UK. Over a quarter of a million visitors a year now use the site to find resources, training and inspiration for their work, including RE teachers and other school staff, as well as youth workers. The project is also a member of Youthwork, a wider collaboration of Christian youth organisations in the UK.
Most recently, LCET has been involved in developing the 'We Love Our Youth Worker' campaign, an accreditation standard for churches who employ youth workers. The Charter launched in 2009 and is being adopted across the UK by individual churches and denominations.