Mary Billington is a Union Learning Rep with PCS in the North West. Following a request from a rep at an MOD office in Liverpool Mary set a Menopause Awareness event for members.
Older women between 55 and 64 years old are the fastest growing section of the workforce, yet TUC Education has found that women’s experiences of menopause transitions are often seen as a taboo subject is provided in workplaces.
Mary said that a request for an event exploring issues around the menopause such came from the Walker House PCS rep, Debbie Butler.
Debbie had a meeting with Kim Hill the Walker House Equality & Diversity Officer. It was highlighted that we have a large number of female staff in the age group that would be experiencing the menopause.”
Due to other commitments the project never got off the ground, but when Mary started at the ULR in Walker House in July 2018 and this subject was brought to her attention and she decided that this would be an important learning event to organise.
This proved to be a very popular decision and the event had 42 ladies sign up.
On the day PCS Industrial Officer Mary Doolin lead the session, which as very well received.
The presentation was really well received by all who attended, one lady said it was the best presentation she had ever been to in that room !!”
Mary Doolin was brilliant, she pitched it at the right level with practical information and I lot of good humour which was well received.
Delegates found the whole session particular useful.
PCS member Shirley Small said:
Thanks for arranging today’s presentation, I thought the presentation was very worthwhile for me because:
- I learnt more facts about the menopause
- I became more aware about the potential impact of the changes
- In my opinion it was one of the most informative, useful and practical presentations I’ve ever attended in that room!
Many thanks go to yourself and the union for arranging the presentation and raising awareness of this issue which impacts on real life and working life for many people.”
Fellow member Lesley King agreed, saying:
Many thanks for organising this morning’s event, I really enjoyed it and found out some things that I did not know. It was lovely to come together as a group of women and share experiences and realise, it was not just me going through it, and my experiences were not unique. I also liked the discussion on period poverty, and what we as an organisation can do to help in this building.”
Mary plans to follow up this event over the coming months as a number of issues were raised as a result of the event which reps may need to look at. In particular they want to find out what the MOD policy is on menopause in the work place and how this works in relation to polices around sickness, attendance management, reasonable adjustments, Occupational Health and Gender Equality.
It was explained that other areas of the civil service now provide feminine hygiene products in their toilets free of charge, and though Mary doesn’t expect management to agree to free products she is feels that the branch should raise the issue of lack of machines for the staff.
Some members offered to bring in products from home and put them in the toilets for emergency use.”
Mary is now planning to meet with senior managers to discuss the feminine hygiene issue.
Mary is pleased with the way the day turned out, saying; “It was a really good event, well received and it has encouraged me to carry on. It shows that what the union does really has a positive impact on people’s lives.”
Last year TUC Education ran a webinar on menopause support, which you can watch a recording of at this link.