LYPFT to stage first ever Menopause Festival for staff
Festival takes place on Saturday 9 April
Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is staging the first of its kind Menopause Festival for Leeds health and care staff to support them to live better through the menopause. The festival, at Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre on Saturday 9 April, will bring together 27 special guests including Yorkshire-based menopause experts and holistic wellbeing practitioners to provide advice on how to cope better with menopausal symptoms and where to find additional help and support.
The varied programme includes talks, Q&A sessions, facilitated reflective spaces and holistic wellbeing stalls alongside activities including dance, art, poetry and yoga. Expert guests will be there to provide advice on a wide range of topics including treatments, symptoms management, sleep, nutrition and sex.
Just over 72% of the Trust’s 3000 strong workforce are women, with 53% currently over 40. Alex Cowman, the Trust’s Head of Staff Wellbeing, said: “Just after I joined the Trust in 2021, a colleague contacted me and very openly shared her struggle with the menopause, and the fact that she had found it extremely difficult to find any support whilst at work. I decided to set up a monthly Menopause Support Group, and she kindly co-facilitated the first group with me.
“It became clear early on that there are a lot of women who can’t go down the traditional path of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), due to past cancer diagnosis or other medical issues, so as well as supporting colleagues through that journey, it was important to share information of what else is available. Myself and colleagues from Leeds Recovery College started having a conversation about hosting a staff event specifically for the menopause, and so we have collaborated with them to bring our first festival to life.
Alex added: “With a majority female workforce who will be impacted by the menopause at some point, along with the people in their lives, we wanted to provide a whole range of support that they may not have known was available and this has also now been factored into our new People Plan going forward. In the future, we hope to introduce a stand-alone policy to raise more awareness with managers and an enhanced level of support for staff, so that we can become a Menopause Friendly Accredited employer.”
Places for the festival must be booked in advance and the event is open to all health and care staff in Leeds, along with their friends and family. Further information about the event along with the programme and booking link can be found online at https://www.leedsandyorkpft.nhs.uk/advice-support/leeds-recovery-college/leeds-menopause-festival-2022/
Dr Clare Spencer is a registered menopause specialist and an NHS GP and is one of the guest speakers. As well as her role of Clinical Director at My Menopause Centre, she currently runs an NHS menopause service and is a GP partner in a practice in Leeds. She is also a British Menopause Society menopause trainer and is involved in educating GPs about the menopause transition through talks, lectures and seminars. Clare comments: “While working as a GP I noticed a need for increased awareness and understanding of the menopause transition amongst my patients. I could see how their menopause symptoms were having a detrimental impact on all aspects of their lives and decided to qualify as a menopause specialist. I am passionate about educating, empowering and supporting all women through all stages of their menopause transition.
“It is great to be able to talk about and share evidence-based information on the menopause to all the staff who can come to this special event. When it comes to the menopause, knowledge is power. We know that women who are better prepared for the menopause have a more positive experience as they transition through. I will talk about the menopause – what it is, demystify the symptoms and bust any myths that surround options for managing the menopause, including HRT.”
The ’My Menopause Centre’ website includes a free menopause questionnaire, allowing women to work out whether they are in the menopause transition. https://www.mymenopausecentre.com/menopause-questionnaire/
Dr Ella Russell, also known as the ‘Yorkshire menopause Doctor’, is another key guest speaker. She specialises in supporting women who are transitioning through the perimenopause or who are post-menopausal. Ella comments: “I’m delighted to have been given the opportunity to support this unique event that has been organised to celebrate and support women of all ages who may want to understand more about the perimenopause and menopause. It highlights the commitment from the Trust to recognise, support and empower colleagues who may be struggling with their symptoms at home and work but also recognises that the health and wellbeing of women in their midlife is a priority for us all. I will be discussing a variety of management options for symptoms associated with the perimenopause and menopause including lifestyle measures such as nutrition and exercise through to non-hormonal and hormonal treatments and will also be available for questions in the afternoon.”
NHS information and support for the menopause
It’s worth talking to a GP if you have menopausal symptoms that are troubling you or if you’re experiencing symptoms of the menopause before 45 years of age.
They can usually confirm whether you’re menopausal based on your symptoms, but a blood test to measure your hormone levels may be carried out if you’re under 45.