Guide to Setting up a Menopause Cafe

We think talking about the menopause over a cup of tea is a great way to spend some time. If you agree, why not host your own Menopause Cafe? It’s inexpensive, simple and fun.

A Menopause Cafe is a discussion with no agenda, with the topics are chosen by the participants of the day. So an information event, or a guest speaker, or promoting a particular treatment or product is not a Menopause Cafe. These can be useful events, but please don’t label them as Menopause Cafes.  You could, for example, hold an information talk first, followed by a Menopause Cafe.

This guide is for those who are looking to host Menopause Cafes. It is a work in progress, so please send us your feedback via www.menopausecafe.net.

Index

Working with Us

Menopause Cafe Principles

To be called a Menopause Cafe, your event needs to be offered in accordance with our principles that is:

  • 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 refreshing drinks and nourishing food – and cake!

Otherwise it’s not a Menopause Cafe.

If you follow these principles then please:

  • Use the name Menopause Cafe for your events.
  • Sign our Menopause Cafe Working Agreement
  • Send us a link to your events, which we will post on www.menopausecafe.net
  • Talk to the press and others about Menopause Cafe.

Here are some of the things which Menopause Cafes are not:

  • Menopause Cafes are not support groups
  • Menopause Cafes are not an opportunity to give people information about the menopause, regardless of how useful or important this information is. Instead we create time and space to discuss the menopause without expectations or experts. For this reason having speakers and information materials available is actively discouraged. By all means hold an event with speakers and information, but don’t call it a Menopause Cafe
  • Menopause Cafes are not a method for community engagement, research or consultation.

We’ve established this structure to prevent the use of Menopause Cafes to sell particular products or services.

Quick Start Guide

  • Abide by the Menopause Cafe principles
  • Sign and return the Working With Us Agreement
  • Decide on your venue, date and times
  • Choose who is going to do what: host, facilitator.
  • Send us details of your event to post on our website
  • Publicise your event
  • Enjoy your Menopause Cafe
  • Debrief and evaluate
  • Complete the Menopause Cafe Facilitator’s Feedback form and return to us.

We love talking with and supporting folk who start a Menopause Cafe, so do get in touch with your ideas and questions, at any stage.

What do I need to hold a Menopause Cafe

To hold a Menopause Cafe you need:

  • A least 2 people, covering the roles of host, facilitator, bell monitor and meeter-and-greeter
  • A venue with refreshments
  • People who want to talk about menopause

That’s it! The Menopause Cafe format is flexible, lightweight and straightforward.

Hosting a Menopause Cafe

A Menopause Cafe host is the person or people who make the Menopause Cafe happen. Being a Menopause Cafe host tends to be an enlightening and pleasant way of working with menopause in the community, and investing in your personal growth.

The main qualities of a host are enthusiasm for talking about menopause and high ethical standards. It also helps to have good organisational skills, the ability to build relationships, good networks and patience!

Hosting a Menopause Cafe begins with a thorough read of this guide and then:

  • Recruiting some other people to help you
  • Agreeing who will do what
  • Finding the venue and setting the date.
  • Letting people know.
  • Ensuring the quality and safety of the event
  • Holding and enjoying your Menopause Cafe.
  • Debrief and evaluate
  • Complete and return the Menopause Cafe Facilitator’s Feedback form

To ensure the safety of your Menopause Cafe please:

  • Check all facilitators meet the criteria in the section below.
  • Have a minimum of 2 Menopause Cafe people at the event, especially if the Menopause Cafe is in a domestic setting.
  • Ensure you know where and how to refer people who need more support e.g. local menopause clinics, counsellors.
  • Check whether you need any public liability insurance
  • Refuse to admit anyone who comes to a Menopause Cafe intoxicated.
  • Ensure people know that Menopause Cafe is not a support group.

We would love to talk with you before and after your Menopause Cafe, so that we can learn what works and what doesn’t. Please contact us via www.menopausecafe.net to arrange a time to talk with one of the Steering Group. We have all organised several Menopause Cafes.

Being a Menopause Cafe Facilitator

Facilitation is essential to Menopause Cafe. This role can be summarised as making people feel safe to talk about menopause. The facilitator can be the same person as the host or different but, unlike hosts, a facilitator only performs their role during the Menopause Cafe session.

In general the facilitator’s role consists of:

  • Welcoming people and introducing the session.
  • Ensuring, during the discussion, that our guidelines are respected especially regarding tolerance for others’ views.
  • Bringing people into the discussion if you think they want to say something.
  • Moving the discussion on if things get stuck.
  • Managing any difficult situations, fortunately these instances are very rare.
  • Encouraging people to move tables e.g. by ringing a bell
  • Closing the session and asking for evaluation.

Facilitators do not need to be menopause experts, but they should:

  • Be able to listen to and discuss all aspects of menopause calmly and without embarrassment.
  • Have group facilitation skills.
  • Be able to handle any issues or problematic situations at, or arising from the Menopause Cafe.

Along with the skills above, the main qualities of a facilitator are enthusiasm for talking about menopause, empathy, clear boundaries, flexibility and a friendly manner.

In the Menopause Cafe there are no hierarchies. We all meet simply as people who are interested in the menopause. As such any facilitators who work around menopause should be willing to leave their professional identity at the door.

In general facilitators leave a Menopause Cafe feeling uplifted, but this doesn’t always happen. It is not unusual to feel concerned or even downcast, so it’s useful to have support people in place, these could be your fellow-organisers.

Venues

A good venue is important as a pleasant environment helps people relax and talk about menopause. The Menopause Cafe is very flexible and can be run successfully in a variety of setting including people’s homes, Cafes, community centres and workplaces.

The following questions might help you find the right venue for your Menopause Cafe:

  • Where will you feel most comfortable and relaxed?
  • Where will you get free room rental? Cafes are often happy to open for your exclusive use, provided they make enough in sales to cover their staff costs.
  • Where is it easy to obtain refreshments? Cafes are good in respect of this as people can just buy their own refreshments.
  • Where is a convenient location within the community?

Refreshments

Coffee and cake is popular. However, any sort of food and drink can be on offer, so this can be geared to your community.

There are a range of options for providing food and drink:

  • Asking people to buy their own from a Cafe on the premises
  • Hosting a potluck where attendees contribute food to share.
  • You provide the food and drink.

If you decide to have home prepared food or potluck, remember to have regard to food preparation and handling guidelines and regulation. It is the host’s responsibility to ensure that any food and drink provided is safe.

Timings

People often ask how regularly they should organise a Menopause Cafe. The answer is that there are no recommended timescales – hosts organise them whenever it feels right. Some Menopause Cafes take place monthly but most are on an as-and-when basis.

The average duration of a Menopause Cafe is around 2 hours. It is possible to have longer and it is also possible to have a meaningful Menopause Cafe in an hour. When considering your timings please remember that people often take time to settle.

The Acutal Menopause Cafe!

Please note, the Menopause Cafe model doesn’t include having specific topics, set questions or guest speakers.

It’s OK to situate your Menopause Cafe alongside other events e.g. after an information session, a fashion show, a pamper session or a sing-a-long! However, the Menopause Cafe should always be separate from these, and observe our principles.

In general Menopause Cafes are open to, and respectful of, people of all ages and genders (or none). However, it is fine to have Menopause Cafes for specific groups e.g. women only. Wherever possible these should be facilitated by people who are from that group.

People sit at Cafe size tables in groups of 4-8. The facilitator gives an introduction and then floats between groups when needed.

Start

At the start of your Menopause Cafe it is good to set out some things:

  • What Menopause Cafe is and our principles.
  • Whether you’re asking for donations and, if so, what these are for
  • Basic ground rules: listening when people are talking, respect for others’ views and confidentiality.
  • Thank the venue for hosting, and ask people to buy plenty of tea and cake to support the venue.
  • Encourage people to move tables so that they join in several conversations. If you’re going to ring a bell, let them know that’s a reminder to change tables, if they wish to do so.
  • Invite the facilitators to identify themselves.
  • Ask whether people are comfortable with photos being taken if you plan to do so. We’d love some more photos for our website, and you can use them to publicise future events.
  • Suggest each group starts with everyone going round saying why they’ve come, and that it’s OK to say “I’d just like to listen” or “pass” and see where the conversation goes from there.
Middle
  • We have someone at the door to meet people at the start, and keeping an eye on the door throughout the event. If it’s in a public place we put a poster at the door, and greet people with “Have you come for the Menopause Cafe?”, to prevent innocents wandering in thinking they are just going into a normal Cafe and then being surprised when strangers join them and start talking menopause!
  • We aim to have a facilitator at most tables, they usually don’t have to do anything except join in the conversation.
  • We find useful to ring a bell every 20 minutes or so and encourage people to get up and move tables, if they wish to do so. It helps if the facilitators set a good example here!
  • We can provide business cards with links to Menopause Cafe social media, for you to put on the tables, if you wish
End
  • We thank everybody for attending and ask them to evaluate the session. Here’s an example evaluation form, which you are free to use. Please send us your versions, so we can accumulate to library of feedback forms.
  • It’s good to stay around after the session has ended to talk to anyone who wants to talk. It’s also good to debrief with the other hosts and facilitators sometime after the event. Please send us a brief account of how it went, any statistics on attendance and any feedback comments for us to put on www.menopausecafe.net.

Publicity

The objective of Menopause Cafe is to start conversations about menopause. Publicising your Menopause Cafe is a great way to do this, since people who hear about it often talk about menopause, even if they don’t attend in person. They may join our conversations on social media or talk with their friends.

Please send us details of your Menopause Cafe which we will post on www.menopausecafe.net.

Ways to publicise your Menopause Cafe include:

  • Contact local media with a press release. They are often interested.
  • Post on social media, please tag the Menopause Cafe twitter and facebook accounts @menopause_cafe and www.facebook.com/menocafe17
  • Create an online event (eg EventBrite MeetUp or Origin) where folk can book their free place. This lets you know roughly how many people to expect.
  • Put up posters. We can provide a template for you to adapt or create your own.
  • Tell your friends and colleagues!
  • Give out the Menopause Cafe business cards, or leave them in public places. We can provide a link to order these.

When talking with the media about Menopause Cafe please:

  • State our principles
  • Credit Rachel Weiss with starting Menopause Cafe in Perth, Scotland
  • Give links to www.menopausecafe.net

Money and Sponsorship

Make Menopause Cafe sustainable and accessible by minimising costs. We run them at no cost in a Cafe which doesn’t charge us, provided we buy enough cake. However, you may sometimes incur costs, in which case you could ask for donations, making it clear what these will be used for, so people can see it accords with our not-for-profit principle. If you collect more money than needed to cover your costs, we suggest you donate the excess to the Menopause Cafe charity (currently being set up), which funds PR and our website.

We accept contributions towards Menopause Cafe, the contributors are called sponsors. Their contributions may take the form of:

  • Money for expenses
  • Provision of a room, or refreshments
  • Allowing employees to organise Menopause Cafe in work time

We acknowledge sponsors at the event and in publicity.

We don’t accept sponsorship from large private sector organisations in the menopause products sector, since this would compromise our neutral stance on menopause treatments.

Acknowledgements

This guide is based on the Death Cafe Guide www.deathcafe.com, with thanks to Jon Underwood for letting us adapt his Death Cafe model. This guide was written by Rachel Weiss.