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Toolkits & Workbooks

These resources have been developed to support you with your community project. Some are specifically for groups involved in Community Exchanges, Emergency Planning etc. whilst others can be useful for all types of projects. Further guidance is available in Guidance Sheets


Managing Risks Toolkit

This toolkit aims to help village hall committees consider the main risks for their hall and to access further information to help manage these risks effectively.

Risks is often a topic which focuses on Health and Safety, or a crisis situation. This toolkit takes a more holistic approach to the range of risks for halls, and categories these under four key headings of: Law and Governance; People; Money; and Buildings.

Community Oil Buying Groups Toolkit

Many communities in Cumbria are dependent on oil to heat their homes and by setting up a community oil buying group residents can save money on their bills. This toolkit explains what a community oil buying group is, how to set one up and what you need to consider as well as tips and ideas on how to run and manage your group when it is established.

Questionnaire Design Guide

Being able to put together a survey which is easy to understand, and will give you the information you need, is a useful skill for any community group, particularly those doing Community Led Plans. This guide provides an introduction to writing questionnaires, the types of questions to avoid, how to ensure your survey is accessible to all, and how to analyse the results.

Community Exchanges Toolkit

Community Exchanges are regular community-led events that bring people together, provide services and information and reduce social isolation. This toolkit brings together a series of guidance sheets and video interviews from Crosthwaite Exchange, 'The Vic' Community Cafe in Culgaith, and  Bolton Exchange, to support other communities looking to start their own Exchange or Community Cafe.

Community Emergency Planning Toolkit

A Community Emergency Plan plan helps people prepare for an emergency, organises neighbourly help during the incident, makes appropriate links to emergency services and local authorities, and assists with recovery after the event. The full 10 Step Toolkit and summary Poster, together with the Guidance and Template for Smaller Communities will help you prepare in a way that fits the needs of your community. Take a look at Keswick's video interview to hear about their experience.

Sustainable Communities Workbook

A discussion tool to help assess your community's sustainability and plan for the future using the Egan Wheel's eight key elements for a sustainable community.


Good Neighbours Scheme Toolkit

A Good Neighbour Scheme is a voluntary initiative run by a group of local residents who recognise the benefits of such a scheme to the community, and want to help their neighbours enjoy a better quality of life. The Good Neighbour Scheme toolkit will assist and guide you through setting up the scheme.

Setting Up and Running Effective Organisations

Getting Going Workbook

This workbook will help members of the community who are thinking of setting up a new group to choose an appropriate legal structure. Planning what type of organisation your group will be, right at the start, will help you to be clear about: what you are trying to achieve; what activities you will provide; who you want to benefit; where you will operate; who will be responsible for the organisation; who the organisation has to report to; how the organisation will be managed.

Policies and Procedures

Developing policies and procedures will help your organisation be clear about: your legal responsibilities; how you deal with your stakeholders; how you will be accountable for the organisation; and how you will put your policies into practise.

Sustainable Funding

Sustainable funding is about getting better at fundraising and diversifying into new areas of fundraising so that you don't become over reliant on one source of income. This workbook will help your organisation to develop a sustainable funding strategy.

Robust Business Planning

This workbook will help your organisation plan its activities and produce a business plan to help you be clear about: what you are trying to achieve; how you deliver your services; how you monitor, evaluate, and review your activities; your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats; and what is going on around you and how much you interact with other people and groups.

Developing Your Budget

This workbook has been produced to help your organisation plan its finances to pay for its activities and produce a budget and cash flow forecasts.


Marketing is simply letting other people know what your organisation does or what it plans to do so they can take part in your activities, volunteer to help, or offer financial support. This workbook will help you be clear about who you want to communicate with, what you want to tell them, and how.

Working with Volunteers

This workbook will help your organisation recruit and support a volunteer workforce. Understanding how to attract, retain, and manage volunteers will help you: increase the number of volunteers supporting your organisation; increase the skills within your organisation; and allocate resources efficiently.


Latest News

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.