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The Rural Women's Network

ACT supported the development of the Rural Women’s Network (RWN) from 2001 to 2006. The network was established to help women in Cumbria realise their full potential through business support and the development of personal and workplace skills. Network groups set up across the County to provide local support to women considering, developing and excelling in their business ventures.


The Network Groups continue to meet and offer opportunities to a diverse and varied membership. ACT continues to service the Rural Women’s Network website where you can access information on current network activities.
The Cumbria Chamber of Commerce is providing women entrepreneurs with a full range of support and the Cumbria Growth Hub also has a package of support available for women.

How did the Rural Women’s Network work?

The Rural Women’s Network enables women to gain confidence in their ability to create a business, learn new skills, work with like-minded women and improve their prospects for finding work. It has helped women in Cumbria by providing a wide range of services. These include:

  • Inspirational and motivational tools such as workshops, case-studies and networking opportunities
  • Personal development training (confidence building, negotiating, time management etc)
  • One to one business advice in the client’s own home for as long as it is wanted.
  • Practical and interactive business start up and ICT training courses with take-away materials and a follow up service
  • Network groups (both geographical and sectoral, and higher level networking events (regional, national and transnational) with inspirational speakers)
  • Signposting to other private, public and voluntary sector organisations
  • Locally based support with a focus on individual needs

What has the Rural Women’s Network achieved?
  • Over the last few years, the Rural Women’s Network has had a significant impact on the entrepreneurial women and economy of Cumbria. Some of its achievements are:
  • Over 2,800 members
  • Over 800 women benefited from training and/or training bursaries.
  • Over 1200 women taking part in networking opportunities.
  • Over 400 women have received/are receiving one to one business advice
  • 158 new businesses started
  • The average business turnover for businesses started by the RWN in their first year is £22,000, with approximately 50 businesses started each  year. This contributes an additional £1,100,000 to the Cumbrian economy each year.
  • The average number of jobs provided by businesses started by the RWN is 1.5 per business, contributing an additional 75 jobs to the Cumbrian economy each year


Latest News

Celebrating Award Winning Village Halls

13 September 2017

Celebrating Award Winning Village Halls

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. 

Medical Services and Transport needed by rural people

8 August 2017

Medical Services and Transport needed by rural people

From the 1,000 responses so far in the Cumbria Rural Panel Survey, the top priorities are: access to medical services, the need for transport services and affordable housing. Good Broadband and access to a village shop are also scoring highly. The survey being promoted by ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) is asking rural Cumbrian residents which services are important to them.  The results will be used to provide a focus for the discussions of the Cumbria Rural Panel. The survey ask respondents to pick three services, from a list of eight, that are the most important to rural life and then asks people to identify the one thing that would improve life in rural Cumbria.

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. 

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