Partner at Rowan Consultancy and Founder of Menopause Cafe
Menopause Cafes are pop up events, run by volunteers, to create conversations about the menopause. Here’s the story of how they began.
Before my first period, I knew what to expect (roughly), who to talk to (my mum) and what my options were (tampons or sanitary towels).
Before my first pregnancy, I knew what to expect (roughly), who to talk to (my GP) and what my options were.
Before my menopause I hadn’t got a clue!
Friends didn’t talk about it, it wasn’t mentioned in any of the books I read, there was nothing in the media. You would think it was a minority interest– but I knew it was inevitable for me and for half the population; so why was there so little information and conversation out there?
“Forewarned is forearmed” is my motto. I like to plan ahead, even if my plans are then torn to shreds by reality. So I wanted to find out more. And if I wanted to, maybe others would be interested too?
Interest in a Menopause Café picked up quickly
From my work as a counsellor and a coach at Rowan Consultancy, I knew that talking helps, so I posted on our Rowan Consultancy facebook page asking “Do you think anyone would be interested in a Menopause Café, where people meet up to talk about menopause?”. There was a huge response, including crucially, two women offering to help organise a Menopause Café. Thanks to Lorna and Gail, and the offer of IT support from my husband, Andy, my idea became reality.
I already facilitated Death Cafes. These are pop up events where people, often strangers, gather to drink tea, eat cake and talk about death. So I emailed Jon Underwood, the Death Café founder, asking if we could set up Menopause Cafes along the same principles ie
- With no intention of leading participants to any conclusion, product or course of action.
- As an open, respectful and confidential space where people can express their views safely.
- On a not for profit basis.
- Alongside drinks and cake!
That’s how, one sunny evening in June 2017, Lorna, Gail, Andy and I sat in Blend Coffee Lounge, Perth waiting to see whether anyone would join us. We shouldn’t have worried: 28 women and men came to talk menopause. People sat in small groups, discussing whatever they wanted, often starting with the simple question: Why are you here? There was much laughter and lots of chat. Feedback included:
“I talked about more intimate matters to these strangers than I have to my friends”
“Now I feel normal, I know it’s not just me, I’m not going mad!”
We want to start conversations about the menopause, to make it an ordinary topic of conversation. Our purpose is to increase awareness of the impact of the menopause on those experiencing it, their friends, colleagues and families, so that we can make conscious choices about this third stage of life
We hope to inspire a world-wide network of Menopause Cafes, held in people’s homes, in cafes, in workplaces.
There have now been over 100 Menopause Cafes in the UK and one in Toronto, over 1100 people have attended, including 16 men. Menopause Café is a charity, with Kirsty Wark as patron.
The future of The Menopause Café
To find out how to run a Menopause Café read our “How To” guide. All you need is a venue, some refreshments and a warm, welcoming attitude with an open mind. It doesn’t have to cost you a penny!
We are hosting a Menopause Festival in Perth on April 26th-27th 2019, looking at menopause in the workplace, and using film, comedy, creative writing and art to explore our responses to the menopause. https://www.horsecross.co.uk/festivals/menopause-festival-2019