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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 Hall - 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 - Development Officer

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.

Help for Village Halls Managing Risks

1 May 2018

Help for Village Halls Managing Risks

ACTion with communities in Cumbria has been working with participants from seven village halls to design a Managing Risks Toolkit for the 300 plus halls across Cumbria.

The project aims to assist village halls to deal with the challenges of extreme weather events and other risks such as loss of income, issues within committees and other situations. It is funded by the Prince’s Countryside Fund and was awarded after Storm Desmond when a number of halls in Carlisle, South Lakeland and Allerdale were flooded.

Local charity supports community resilience across Cumbria

12 April 2018

Local charity supports community resilience across Cumbria

ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) is supporting community resilience and emergency planning activities across Cumbria, as part of a 3 year BIG Lottery funded programme. This includes helping people to get together to share their experiences, think about future risks and what they might do to be better prepared.

ACT celebrating 70 years - and appealing for images

5 April 2018

ACT celebrating 70 years - and appealing for images

ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) is 70 in October and using this milestone as an opportunity to celebrate the organisation’s past and also look to the future.

ACT’s Chief Executive Lorrainne Smyth says “We’ve changed our name several times in those 70 years, settling on ACTion with Communities in Cumbria back in 2008, but it is striking how little our aims, priorities and ways of working have changed since the beginning. We still rely on a core group of committed people as our staff and our Trustees and it’s still about making a difference by championing rural issues and working with communities.”

Thank you to everyone involved in Village Halls Week

26 January 2018

Thank you to everyone involved in Village Halls Week

Village Halls around the country have been celebrating the first national Village Halls Week between 22nd and 26th January. Here at ACT we’d like to say a huge thank you for all the work you do in your communities and to share a few of the highlights in Cumbria and around the country.

Cumbria celebrates national Village Halls Week

10 January 2018

Cumbria celebrates national Village Halls Week

ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) is encouraging village halls across the county to get involved in the first ever national #VillageHallsWeek starting Monday 22nd January 2018. This is a week-long celebration to say a collective “thank-you” to all volunteers who work tirelessly to keep community buildings and village halls open for the benefit of their communities.

Celebrating Award Winning Village Halls

13 September 2017

Celebrating Award Winning Village Halls

Volunteers from six Community Buildings around Cumbria were presented with achievement awards by ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) at their recent AGM. Over 50 people attended the event at Sedbergh People’s Hall, celebrating the enormous contribution which Village Hall volunteers make to the communities they serve.