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Managing Menopause

The world’s only menopause festival

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Rachel Weiss

Founder, Menopause Café

In a café, people of all ages sit at tables drinking tea, eating cake and talking. So far, so normal, until you realise that every conversation is about the menopause. Welcome to Menopause Café!

Menopause Cafés are pop-up events, held worldwide, aiming to break the taboo around talking menopause. The Menopause Café movement led to the world’s only menopause festival, held annually in Perth, Scotland, where participants laugh and learn together.

How it started

On a cold, dark night in February 2017, I sat down to watch the Kirsty Wark documentary, “Menopause and Me”. My husband joined me. We learnt that the average for menopause in the UK is 51 and that nobody talks about It.

At the end I, (50 and still having regular periods) turned to Andy and said, “do you think anyone would be interested in a Menopause Café, where you can just turn up and talk about the menopause?”. We put the idea out on the Facebook page of our counselling business and were blown away by the number of positive responses. Crucially, two women, Lorna and Gail, said they’d help us run the first one. So what choice did I have, but to give it a go?

That’s how, on a warm, sunny evening In June, Andy, Lorna, Gail and I sat in Blend Coffee Lounge, Perth, waiting to see whether anyone would turn up for the world’s first Menopause Café. We’d advertised it on social media and told the local press, but would anyone want to come and talk about the menopause with strangers? To our surprise, and relief, about 24 people joined us that evening, talked non-stop, and asked when the next one would be.

Now there’ve been over 250 Menopause Cafés throughout the UK and in Toronto, Copenhagen and Nairobi!

How does it work?

Menopause Cafés follow four simple principles borrowed from the Death Café movement. Sessions are offered:

  • to all, regardless of age or gender;
  • in an accessible, respectful and confidential space;
  • with no intention of leading people to any conclusion or course of action;
  • on a not-for-profit basis;
  • alongside refreshing drinks and cake!

It’s a social franchise, so volunteers sign up to our principles, we send them a welcome pack and publicise their event. Menopause Café is a registered charity and a trademarked term.

Menopause café also run an annual menopause festival in two parts:

1) A Friday “Menopause at Work” seminar aimed at HR professionals, trade unions and occupational health, covering good practice for workplaces to attract, support and retain women through the peri-menopause and post-menopause years

2) A Saturday for everyone, featuring speakers on menopause symptoms and how to reduce these; creative workshops like Native American belly-dancing, yoga, sculpture, art and learning assertiveness; followed by evening entertainment of menopause cabaret and stand-up comedy.

What’s next?

We want:

  • more men at Menopause Cafés. They live and work with us, so they need to know what’s going on;
  • more countries hosting Menopause Cafés;
  • more people coming to #FlushFest2020, the world’s only menopause festival in Perth on May 29th and 30th.

The world’s only menopause festival is held in Perth each year, celebrating the menopause with speakers, creative workshop, cabaret and comedy. Join us in Perth on May 29th and 30th to break the taboo and have some fun!

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