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ACT celebrating 70 years - and appealing for images

Issued 29 March 2018

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.”

When the charity was set up in 1948, following the Second World War, three key issues were identified:  men returning from the war in need of training in rural skills; older people in rural communities who needed support and social activities; and campaigning around a lack of access to essential services such as transport, housing and medical facilities.

Records held at ACT’s offices indicate that 117 ex-service men were trained in blacksmithing and welding in the first few years of the charity, £27,000 was awarded in grants to start rural businesses and 75 grants were awarded to build village halls.

“We have most of the archive records – including annual reports and written minute books – going back to the first meeting in 1948,” says Lorrainne, “but we’ve very little visual material until the 1960s and 1970s. As we approach the 70 year celebrations in October, we’d love to hear from people who might have come across photographs from those early decades, especially anything relating to these very early skills and business start up stories. We’re also approaching the teams at village halls such as Allonby, Wray, Ennerdale and Nicholforest who were among the halls set up around this time.”

 If you or someone you know was involved or has inherited photographs from the early days of what was then known as the Cumberland Council for Social Service, please contact Lorrainne and the team at ACTion with Communities in Cumbria as soon as possible.  Your images might give clues to other people who were involved and could be included in documents for the 70 year celebrations.

To mark the 70th birthday, ACT is planning a ceilidh at Newbiggin Village Hall near Penrith on Saturday 8 September and then a very special AGM celebration on Friday 19 October.

“We’ve helped all sorts of groups across Cumbria to achieve a lot in our 70 years,” says Lorrainne, “but there is still a huge amount to do. Today, groups of people making a difference in their communities need support and advice as much as anything else. We’re proud of the work that we’re doing with them today and looking forward to celebrating and planning for the future with them later this year.”

If you are interested in becoming a supporter of ACTion with Communities in Cumbria or getting involved in its work and campaigns, contact ACT on 01228 817224 or email via or via Facebook.

Photo:  Lorrainne Smyth of ACTion with Communities in Cumbria with just a part of the organisation’s 70-year archive of minute books, annual reports and documents. If anyone has photographs from the early years of ACT (which was known as the Cumberland Council for Social Service when it was established in 1948), please contact a member of the team via

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