Opinions

How the Menopause Café is breaking taboo

Written by: Menopause Café

Published: 22/01/2020

The Menopause Café movement is creating spaces for conversations about menopause.

Menopause Café® (this link will take you away from our website) is a charity based in Perth, Scotland. The story began in 2017 when founder, Rachel Weiss realised she was at the average age for a woman to enter menopause, and yet she knew very little about what to expect. Coming from the ‘forewarned is forearmed school of thought’, Rachel set about to change this and the Menopause Café movement was born.

A Menopause Café® is a group-directed discussion. There are no speakers, no set agenda and the events do not promote any particular product, service or outcome. It involves men and women, young and old gathering together in a relaxed, respectful environment to discuss menopause over a cup of tea/coffee and a slice of cake (or two!). That’s it. The format is terribly simple and based on the Death Café model developed by the late Jon Underwood.

There have now been over 350 Menopause Café events held all over the UK from Southampton to Aberdeen, Bangor in Northern Ireland to Cambridge. The reach extends far beyond the UK though with Menopause Café’s in Toronto & Alberta Canada, Denmark, Wisconsin USA and they’ve just had someone sign up in New Zealand. Typically, they are held in coffee shops, or in the case of workplace events, in the staff canteen.

The feedback we receive is often humbling, and overwhelming positive with one main theme running through the messages; “thank goodness I now know I am not alone”. The power of this sentence really shouldn’t be underestimated, and whilst it is a cliché that ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, it really is true. Sharing symptoms, tips, and stories allows attendees to experience the bond of common humanity and that in itself can be uplifting and boost morale during what can be a tumultuous time in a woman’s life.

The Charity is managed entirely by 7 volunteers, all with day-jobs and families, and whilst also juggling their fair share of menopausal symptoms, not least of which is brain fog! It’s probably surprising then that in addition to running the charity and co-ordinating café events, we also organise the world’s only Menopause Festival aka #FlushFest, in Perth, Scotland.

In previous years the committee resorted to all manner of fundraising activities to support the festival, not least running the Perth Santa 5K. Thankfully this year, Lindsays solicitors have provided sponsorship, and also continue to be supported by Rowan Consultancy.

The festival, now in its 3rd year, has a unique and varied lined-up, blending case-law with cabaret and belly-dancing with best practice when it comes to implementing a Menopause policy in the workplace. When choosing the programme they try to remain firm to the festivals underlying principle of ‘break the taboo, have some fun’.

Another message they try to convey through the spirit of all events is a quote from their patron, Kirsty Wark who said in her ground-breaking documentary The Insiders Guide to the Menopause,  “We are not in retreat”.

To run a Menopause Café event, potential hosts should have a read of the guidelines and send in their Working Agreement. They will then work in partnership with hosts to help them plan and deliver their Menopause Café.

For more information on how to host your own Menopause Cafe visit Menopause Cafe (this link will take you away from our website).

Head to Menopause Cafe (this link will take you away from our website) to find the nearest event to you, and for full details of the Menopause Festival.

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