Diocese of Carlisle

    Charity director takes key role to support county’s God for All vision and strategy

    Latest News
    29 Sept. 2023

    A charity director and vicar’s daughter is to take on a key role helping Cumbrian churches grow in new and exciting ways.

    Rachel Head, currently the Head of Children and Young Peoples Services at the Brathay Trust, has been appointed Director of Mission and Ministry Support and Innovation at the Diocese of Carlisle.

    The externally funded role is a new one for the Diocese and will see Rachel oversee a central team supporting local churches to grow God’s Kingdom in Cumbria through the ecumenical God for All vision and strategy. That team supports the 34 mission communities that have been created across the county – groupings of mutually supportive churches which have a mission focus and are mainly cross-denominational.

    Rachel said: “I am delighted that I will be joining the Diocese in this new role. I want to offer as much support and encouragement to colleagues as possible so that together we can make the God for All vision and strategy a reality.

    “It is a bold vision and strategy, and this job is not going to be easy, but I love a challenge. Faith and church have always been an important part of my life. I know what it’s like to live in a vicarage, to be part of a clergy and church family and to work within a diocese. I want to bring all of that lived experience to this new position.

    “I would also like to thank all my colleagues at the Brathay Trust for their support and encouragement over the years and wish them all well.”

    The role is currently funded for the next three years through the Church Commissioners with further funding expected to be secured in coming months. It will see an emphasis on building, leading and managing a central mission and ministry support team to support areas of the God for All strategy including growing younger, ministry, church planting and pioneering/missional imagination. Rachel will also work in close collaboration with the Diocese’s Archdeacons who in their ancillary roles as Strategy Development Officers work closely with mission communities.

    The Bishop of Penrith, the Rt Rev Rob Saner-Haigh, said: “We are delighted to be able to welcome Rachel to our team, a team which is committed to growing God’s Kingdom in Cumbria and supporting local churches and Mission Communities in that aim.

    “I very much look forward to seeing Rachel bring her considerable skills and strategic oversight to the post. She and her family will be in my prayers as she prepares to make the move to join us.”

    Rachel moved to Cumbria in 1996 and has lived in Keswick for 24 years. She is married to Martin and they have a teenage son. Her father, Brian Smith, is a retired clergy person, having previously served as vicar of St John’s Keswick and as a Rural Dean, before becoming an Archdeacon on the Isle of Man. Rachel and her family worship at Crosthwaite Church in Keswick.

    She originally trained as a nurse before moving into the charity sector where she has worked with children and young people for 30 years. For 22 of those she worked for Barnado’s and was an original member of the charity’s first Cumbrian team. It’s a role which saw her work across all the Cumbrian districts managing services which support families in their own homes, in community, running children’s centres and leading specialist services for young people, including edge of care and exploitation services.

    She started in her role at Brathay in 2019 and has been based at the social enterprise and charity’s headquarters at Brathay Hall in Ambleside. As a member of the senior leadership team, she helped the organisation – whose charitable mission is to support and develop children and young people - navigate the challenges of the Covid pandemic.

    Diocesan Secretary Derek Hurton added: “I’m sure all my Church House colleagues, our clergy, church officers and ecumenical partners will join me in welcoming Rachel to this role.

    “It is an equally exciting and daunting post, but Rachel will bring a breadth of proven skills to the role as she looks to help encourage, energise and support people who want to help our churches grow younger, flourish and reach out in new ways to new people.”

    Rachel will start in post in January 2024.


    Notes to editors

    Click here for more about the God for All vision and strategy.

    For further information contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658 or at communications@carlislediocese.org.uk.