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‘It nearly destroyed my life’: Menopause activist teams up with Big Issue to give sellers crucial advice

The Big Issue Foundation has teamed up with menopause charity Pausitivity to let vendors know about the under-discussed condition

“Menopause nearly destroyed my life. I used to go down to the Thames at lunchtime and wondered why I didn’t throw myself in,” says Elizabeth Ellis.

This was the start of a realisation that led Ellis to start Pausitivity, a campaign to make sure women are informed about the often under-discussed symptoms of menopause, and the help they can get.

And now, Big Issue sellers will get information about the menopause, thanks to a partnership with Pausitivity.

“I’m educated, and I had no idea that all of the symptoms that I had gone through for years were menopause,” says Ellis.

Seeing homeless people on the streets of Canterbury, Ellis realised they wouldn’t be getting help either.

“You pass women in the street and think, who is helping these women through the menopause? Nobody is there for these people,” she adds.

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“I realised that there’s a huge swathe of people who don’t go to GP surgeries. Their lives are not set up in that way.

Partnering with The Big Issue Foundation, she said, was a natural move.

Posters with signs and symptoms, and where to get help have now been sent to all Big Issue offices, to be displayed on notice boards for vendors.

They’ve also been translated into Romanian for the first time, in a bid to reach as many people as possible.

Pausitivity’s campaign is aiming to get the posters into GP surgeries, where information about menopause is often hard to come by.

The campaign has been supported by celebrities including Jenny Eclair and Jeremy Vine. Image: Supplied

Ellis saw that women she grew up with simply weren’t being told about what was happening to them. She had a realisation.

“The whole menopause conversation is very middle class,” says Ellis.

“I grew up in Byker, Newcastle and I know a lot of women who were not getting that message at all. I was seeing how much people at home were being ignored by this.”

This information blackout has a massive impact. “There is nothing about menopause in GP surgeries and it affects 51 per cent of the population. Some end up taking their lives because they feel so lost and alone,” says Ellis.

“Women cry when they realise they’re not alone in this and what they are feeling is perfectly normal. A lot of women think they are getting dementia, and early onset dementia. But it’s just your hormones.”

Along with Big Issue vendors, Ellis is spreading the message to prisons and food banks. “We should all understand what is happening to our bodies,” she says.

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