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Lorrainne Smyth - Chief Executive

Lorrainne was appointed as Chief Executive in 2012. Prior to this she worked as Strategic Policy Advisor Community Programmes and Performance Manager at Cumbria County Council where she advised on community engagement and inclusion.  Lorrainne's background is in community development, specialising in rural communities.  Between 1993 and 2007 she worked at ACT as the Development Team Manager taking responsibility for a variety of projects.  She has worked extensively with parish councils, village halls, graduate apprentices and undertaken project development and delivery with communities throughout Cumbria.  Lorrainne has also held management positions in private sector training and development companies, local authorities and Third Sector organisations placing emphasis on shared learning and the development process.


Julia Wilson – Development Manager

Julia Wilson photoJulia joined ACT in 2002 and is the Development Manager. She works part-time for ACT developing new project ideas and identifying funding opportunities.

Previous roles for ACT have included development work with communities in the south of the county and project management. Julia has 20 years experience in the voluntary sector and has worked for the Wildlife Trusts, Cumbria CVS and Brathay Trust.



 Hellen Aitken – Development Officer

Hellen joined ACT in 2006. In her role as Development Officer she focuses on the North of the county, supporting communities with Community Led Planning, Village Halls advice, Community Emergency Planning and other initiatives.

In recent years Hellen has taken the lead on delivering a number of community energy projects at ACT, particularly in relation to Fuel Poverty, a key issue affecting rural communities. Prior to joining ACT Hellen led a project for the Princes Trust, mentoring and facilitating learning for young people.   


Fran Richardson – Development Officer  

Fran Richardon photoFran joined the ACT team in September 2015 and is Development Officer working with communities in the south of the county. She supports the work of groups involved in Community Led Planning and offers advice to Village Halls on a range of practical and governance issues.

Fran has over fifteen years experience working for a national charity in which she created, funded and managed opportunities to engage volunteers in practical environmental work and training. She has a particular interest in sustainable living and social equity, including community led development, locally-owned renewable energy production and making sure that communities work to meet the needs of those who require support.


Dani Hudson - Office Manager

dani hudson

Dani joined ACT in 2005 after relocating from Yorkshire where she worked as PA to Chief Executive of a group of international companies.  As well as administering the Cumbria Rural Panel, Rebuilding Together and the Community Resilience Network she also provides PA support to the Chief Executive, organises ACT's events and conferences, and is currently mentor for our Business Administration Apprentice. Dani is the public voice of ACT. She is responsible for the smooth running of the offices, finances and support services to the ACT team and all those who call us with enquiries.

Rose Lord

Rosie LordRose joined ACT in June 2017, working part-time as Development Officer for West Cumbria, supporting communities with emergency planning, community planning and other projects or initiatives. Rose has a strong background in heritage management and conservation planning; having worked for both the National Trust and North of England Civic Trust.

Previous work has included supporting community groups to develop and deliver heritage led projects involving research, interpretation, heritage audits, surveys and appraisals. Rose has also supported groups to access funding through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund, as well as regional and one-off funding sources.

Rose is interested in the role the historic environment plays in shaping people’s day to day lives and is keen to help communities explore ways to share and celebrate the more unusual and lesser known heritage of their local area.

Kerry Barlow –  Business Admin Apprentice 

Kerry joined the ACT team in September 2016 as our Business Admin Apprentice after returning back to Cumbria after serving in the forces. She is responsible for the general administration around the office. Kerry is hoping to achieve her Level 3 in Business Administration whilst working with us.



Cumbria Panel Rural Survey

4 July 2017

Cumbria Panel Rural Survey

ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) is asking rural Cumbrian residents what services are important to them.  The brief survey being used will provide a focus for the first discussions of the Cumbria Rural Panel.

New Emergency Planning guide for Cumbrian Households

27 June 2017

New Emergency Planning guide for Cumbrian Households

ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) is encouraging households across the county to consider how to be better prepared in the event of an emergency and has produced a simple Household Emergency Plan leaflet to help.

Prince's Countryside Fund supports resilience in Community Buildings

4 April 2017

Prince's Countryside Fund supports resilience in Community Buildings

Volunteers from across the county have met with ACTion with Communities in Cumbria to discuss how village halls and other community buildings can be more resilient.

ACT champions community and rural issues, and sees community buildings as a critical part of vibrant, sustainable rural life. Funding from the Prince’s Countryside Fund is supporting ACT to develop a toolkit to help community buildings manage risks and be more resilient.

Chancellor urged to issue Budget VAT refund to village hall charities

30 March 2017

Chancellor urged to issue Budget VAT refund to village hall charities

ACTion with communities in Cumbria is urging the Government to pledge £3 million in the Budget to refund the VAT paid by village halls on improvement work such as modern kitchen and toilet facilities and new meeting rooms. 

New ACT Trustees

21 February 2017

New ACT Trustees

ACTion with communities in Cumbria champions community and rural issues and are welcoming two energetic, committed people to join our board of trustees. As a registered charity that has been functioning for almost 70 years, we need trustee board members who can use their local knowledge and understanding to think strategically about how best to support rural communities to thrive.

Our two new ACT Board members come from very different backgrounds and bring a diverse range of skill sets and expertise to the table.

Big Lottery Fund pledges £1 million support to help Cumbrian communities become more resilient in the wake of the December floods

13 September 2016

Big Lottery Fund pledges £1 million support to help Cumbrian communities become more resilient in the wake of the December floods

The Big Lottery Fund has today announced a £1 million package to help Cumbrian communities become more resilient. This comes in the wake of December’s devastating floods, and will help local people, communities and organisations to prepare for similar events in the future.

The ‘Rebuilding Together’ programme will take place over the next 3 years, led by Cumbria CVS and delivered in partnership with Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS) and Action with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) – three local charities with a long history of working together to support Cumbrian communities and organisations.