Celebrating World Menopause Day with community group M-Powered

How a team of Menopause Wellbeing Champions have created a safe space to share stories and affect change at City & Guilds

18 October 2023

“It was actually only reflecting on some of the things that I learned as we started our journey and we explored more about what perimenopause was and what menopause means, that I looked back and thought that’s why I was like that."
– Geraldine Donworth

Ever since its inception in 2009, World Menopause Day has focused on shedding light on something that has been consistently under-discussed in spite of its impact on around half of the world’s population. The theme of this year’s World Menopause Day (18 October) is cardiovascular disease and this topic, as well as many others, will be discussed both across the world and closer to home by the City & Guilds M-powered Community Support Group.

Our Community Support Groups (CSGs) are employee-organised and -led spaces, designed to give colleagues a chance to talk about the issues and experiences that matter to them. Each CSG has at least one Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) champion who can help make sure anything the group want to see actioned across the business can be discussed as part of the Inclusion & Diversity champion meetings that happen once a month.

CSGs have been introduced both to create a supportive place for important discussions and to help enact real change that can make City & Guilds a better place for everyone. At City & Guilds we have a Responsible Business Strategy focusing on planet, people and products and our CSGs – including M-Powered – are one of the strongest examples of our Responsible Business Strategy in action for our people.

The M-powered CSG story

In 2020 Bryony Kingsland, Geraldine Donworth, and Hillary Gwilliam came together and decided they needed somewhere to talk, and sometimes vent, about the ways that menopause was affecting them. By popular demand, their casual meet-up evolved into the M-powered CSG. Now M-powered’s leads alongside the group chair Kelly Bol, they saw an opportunity to support each other and the many women at City & Guilds through a time in their lives that presents challenges and changes that many of us remain unaware of.

Speaking about the value of having this forum for discussion around symptoms of the menopause, Geraldine shares: “It was actually only reflecting on some of the things that I learned as we started our journey and we explored more about what perimenopause was and what menopause means, that I looked back and thought that’s why I was like that. I didn’t know that’s what was happening to me, and I thought I don’t want other people to be in that situation.”

When the group first began the focus was on providing a safe space to offload about members’ experiences. As the group has grown and evolved, this type of discussion has remained central to meetings and is accompanied by talks from guest speakers, designed to help teach members more about menopause.

Three years on the core tenet of the group has remained: providing a safe space that members can engage with at their own pace. While an agenda is set for each meeting Kelly emphasises the importance of allowing that flexibility: “We don’t say, if you don’t come to the group or if you only turn up once a year you can’t be a member, we’ve got no rules. You can turn up whenever you like, turn up for the support group or turn up to watch the speakers or just use the resources.”

Effecting change as a Community Support Group

One of the invited speakers, Natalie Greenslade of GingerGreen Nutrition, has also provided the resources and information to help the leaders to become Menopause Wellbeing Champions. These champions can help to lead their group and their organisation through the process of adapting to be more menopause friendly.

At City & Guilds this has meant amplifying the views and demands of the whole group. As Geraldine explains: “We’ve got a direction of travel, but it mainly comes from the members, asking them ‘what do you want to do next?’” The champions have so far used surveys as a kind of ‘temperature check’ on the mood of members, trying to secure as much feedback as possible on the activity of the group as they start to work towards bigger projects.

Kelly, Hillary, Geraldine and Bryony currently have their eye on both setting menopause policy within City & Guilds and making City & Guilds an officially Menopause Friendly accredited employer. By ensuring that employees dealing with perimenopause and menopause feel fully supported in the workplace, City & Guilds can become a better place to work for everyone and securing accreditation confirming this commitment shows the world that we take the challenges of menopause seriously and encourages others to do the same.

As we celebrate World Menopause Day this year, it’s a perfect opportunity to applaud the work done by the M-Powered group over the last three years and to look forward to what the future might hold for the CSG and its leaders. With the chance to put the experience and wisdom they’ve gained since starting the group into practice, they will continue to find ways to continue to make a difference for City & Guilds employees, whether they’re members of the group or not.

Learn more about World Menopause Day