Menopause Goals – Celebrating the Second Half is a 12-week course which was delivered by St Mirren FC Charitable Foundation in a bid to help 25 local women address a number of challenges brought on by the menopause.
The innovative pilot – delivered in partnership with Glasgow University, menopause expert Maria Anderson and the Scottish Football Association (SFA) – set out with the aim of reducing participants’ symptoms by 10 per cent.
Funded by St James’s Place Charitable Foundation, the results of the project were astonishing.
All of the women reported improvements with symptoms such as low mood, brain fog, weight gain and sexual health concerns, as well as feeling a greater sense of empowerment and better mental health.
It has been such a success, the club is preparing to host a second course while also developing a programme which can be delivered by other football clubs and charities across Scotland.
Gayle Brannigan, chief executive of the foundation, said the initiative has been one of the most impactful of the charity’s impressive history.
She told the Express: “This pilot really required the women to be very honest and open and be prepared for some very uncomfortable conversations, to attend every week consistently and for data on their experiences to be collated and they really bought into it.
“Every week we would see a massive difference. On week one they walked in with mostly negative body language, looking down on themselves and largely feeling lost.
“But by week six they were starting to see a big difference in themselves, in their relationships, with us at the programme. It was life changing for them and for us to witness.
“By week 12 watching every one of them walking through the door happier, every one of them laughing and joking, looking incredible, so comfortable in their bodies. It was a joy and a privilege to be part of.”
Inspiration to launch the pilot came from women already taking part in the foundation’s community programmes.
Those participating in boot camps, employability initiatives and mental health programmes had increasingly been talking about the devastating effect the menopause was having on their physical and mental health and how the often crippling symptoms were impacting on every area of their lives.
Gayle took that feedback to Corrie Campbell, football social responsibility officer at the SFA, who also identified a lack of menopause support for women at a community level.
Keen to ensure any programme was informed by expert guidance and support, the pair recruited Maria Anderson to ensure the women would be equipped with the knowledge needed to tackle these everyday hurdles head on.
Together they developed a programme which aimed to help women understand the menopause and their bodies while also exploring specific issues such as stress, gut health and hormones. Crucially they also set out to examine things that could help such as improved nutrition, exercise, cold water therapy and meditation.
And, with £5,000 offered by St James’ Place and a team at the University of Glasgow ready to collate and analyse the data, the pilot started in September last year.
Gayle added: “All the data has been handed over to the university and they should have their report compiled by the end of this month.
“With that, we will work with Maria and the SFA to create educational resources which will be shared with 16 other clubs across Scotland.
“There has also been interest from the Scottish Government and UEFA given the feedback the pilot has had.”
The foundation itself will also use the finalised resources to run a second programme, which it hopes to start delivering from April.
More details on that round and how to apply for a place will be issued in due course.