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What We Do

ACT works on a diverse range of projects often in partnership with public sector and other third sector organisations. Follow the links below to find out more about particular projects and areas of work we're involved with.

Community Buildings

Community Buildings, Village Halls and other assets owned by the community are at the very heart of villages and neighbourhoods. ACT supports the volunteers who manage these facilities through the Community Buildings Service and the Community Buildings Directory.

Community Emergency Planning

We are now working on the Big Lottery funded Rebuilding Together project.  As part of the Rebuilding Together programme ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) is supporting communities across the county with Community Emergency Planning and resilience activities, to help them prepare for, respond to, and recover from an emergency.

Community Led Planning

Community Led Planning, Neighbourhood Planning, Emergency Planning, and Valley Planning help local people to explore their needs, set priorities, and plan actions. ACT provides support and access to a wide range of resources, including access to completed plans from across the county in the Community Plans Database.

Cumbria Rural Panel

The Cumbria Rural Panel was established following a review of the Cumbria Rural Forum, providing organisations and individuals with a place to come together and discuss issues of concern to rural life. The Panel is intended to provide a balance of interests and expertise across different sectors of our rural county to: engage in meaningful debates; identify solutions; disseminate information; and promote action.

Good Neighbours

Good Neighbours Schemes match people who can give some time with people who need some help. Lots of people help each other out already but a Good Neighbours Scheme is a way of giving casual help more structure so that: people who need help don’t feel they’re bothering their neighbours if they need to ask for help frequently; and people who don’t know each other, or who are new to the area, can be matched up to help or be helped.

Hallmark Quality Standard for Halls

Hallmark is a nationally recognised award, promoting good management and practice by Community Building Management Committees. Community Buildings with Hallmark can benefit from insurance discounts and gain recognition on funding applications as the award acts as evidence of the high standard of the committee members and the merit of the hall. There are 3 Hallmark awards covering: 'Charity administration and management'; 'Health, safety, security and licences'; and 'Community & social awareness, communications, forward planning and development'

Setting Up and Running a Group

Support for new and established groups in Cumbria, from choosing an appropriate legal structure to business planning, fundraising, and recruiting and managing volunteers.

Previous ACT projects:


This Big Lottery funded project ran in partnership with Cumbria Youth Alliance and Young Cumbria between 2009 and 2013. The purpose was to strengthen the specialist infrastrucutre services that the partners provide to the voluntary and community sector organisations supporting children and young people and rural communities throughout Cumbria.

Big Society Vanguard in the Eden Valley

The Big Society is the Government's vision of a society where individuals and communities have more power and responsibility, and use it to create better neighbourhoods and local services. Three groups of communities in the Eden Valley were included as a rural pilot in the Big Society Vanguard programme in 2010. ACT observed and recorded the work of local residents, producing a range of written resources and full report of the findings.

Calor Village of the Year Competition

ACT coordinated the Cumbria Calor Village of the Year competition between xxxx and xxxx. The competition recognised and celebrated vibrant, enterprising, and caring communities making the most of local opportunities in Cumbria. County competition winners went on to have further success at regional and national level.

Community Energy Champions

ACT encouraged volunteer Energy Champions to pilot a new Community Energy Champions Toolkit in their communities and develop plans for community-led solutions to Fuel Poverty.

Community Exchanges
Community Exchanges are regular, community - led events that bring people together, provide services and information and reduce social isolation. ACT has produced guidance for communities looking to start up their own Exchange and between 2009 and 2011 was able to provide start up funding to groups.
Community Health and Wellbeing Programme

Providing advice, support and grants for community-led health and wellbeing projects.

Cumbria Community Learning Trust
ACT is a member of the Cumbria Community Learning Trust which developed from a national pilot project on Community Learning. The Trust engages with learning providers to assess and meet the learning needs of communities. For more information click on the link above to visit the website.

Energy Best Deal

Energy Best Deal is a national campaign run by Citizens Advice providing information and advice to support those finding it difficult to deal with high energy bills. ACT delivered Energy Best Deal workshops to community groups and front line staff / volunteers in Cumbria between 2011 and 2012.

Fresh Start

Fresh Start was a 2 year project, ending in March 2015, which encouraged groups of women around the county to plan for the future and develop ideas. The Fresh Start workbook and events helped them to: think about their skills and achievements; help them to set some goals; and decide on their next steps.

Future of Rural Energy in England (FREE)

FREE was a 3 year rural energy advice programme, aimed at communities off mains gas, across England. The programme aimed to bring practical independent advice and information regarding fuel choices, energy efficient technologies, and carbon reduction measures, helping to reduce households’ energy consumption and fuel costs. In Cumbria, FREE was delivered by ACT in partnership with NEA (National Energy Action).

North West Upland Farming

The Hill Farming Systems project was developed by the Cumbria Fells and Dales LEADER + Programme in partnership with ACT, in response to concerns about the future of hill farming. The aim of the project was to investigate the environmental, economic and social value of hill farming systems in Cumbria. This project ran between 2006 and 2008, please note the website is no longer being updated.

Revitalising Retail Programme

This programme was last run between 2008 and 2010 in the market towns of Alston, Appleby and Kirkby Stephen. The aim was to support retailers in facing the challenge of: reduced customer numbers; supermarket competition; rising operating expenses; improving their viability and long term sustainability.

Rural Women's Network

The Rural Women’s Network was established to help women in Cumbria realise their full potential through business support and the development of personal and workplace skills.

Social Enterprise Start Up Support (SESUS)

Free business support for new and recently formed social enterprises in Cumbria, including village halls.

Tebay and Orton Local Distinctiveness Project

This three year project was coordinated by ACT, working with the communities of Tebay and Orton between 2010 and 2013 to provide training, events, and raise awareness of, and pride in, cultural and environmental heritage.

Valley Planning
Valley Planning supports an equal partnership approach, between upland communities and agencies, so that future challenges, across common geographical areas, can be met with maximum intelligence and resource. This Valley Planning approach, initiated by ACT in Borrowdale in 2010 and Wasdale in 2012, is currently being developed in the Ullswater catchment in 2013.

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.