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Avanti slammed after handing out ‘insulting gimmicks’ to support peri-menopausal and menopausal women – including a jelly baby ‘in case you feel like biting someone’s head off’ and a paper clip ‘to help you keep it all together’


Avanti West Coast has come under fire for handing out ‘insulting gimmicks’ to support female employees going through the menopause.

The rail firm was accused of making a ‘joke’ out of the menopause which can often be ‘debilitating’.

Avanti confirmed that it had given staff a bag filled with ‘gifts’ which comes with a description of why each item could help them.

This includes a jelly baby ‘in case you feel like biting someone’s head off’, a paper clip ‘to help you keep it all together’, a tissue ‘if you’re feeling a bit emotional’ and a pencil ‘to write down the things you might forget’.

Other items included a fan ‘handy for the hot sweats’, a candle ‘to remind you there is light at the end of the tunnel’, tea ‘because tea makes everything better’ and a penny ‘to bring you good luck. 

There was also chocolate because ‘hey, great excuse to eat chocolate’.

Avanti West Coast has come under fire for handing out 'insulting gimmicks' to support female employees going through menopause

Avanti West Coast has come under fire for handing out ‘insulting gimmicks’ to support female employees going through menopause

The Aslef train drivers’ union shared a photo of the list and wrote on X: ‘Avanti the menopause is debilitating for some women, it’s not a joke. 

‘Rather than handing out insulting gimmicks to female employees you’d be better placed developing workplace policies and procedures that value and support peri-menopausal and menopausal women!’

The post has been seen by more than 10,000 users already and has sparked outrage in the comments.

One user said: ‘What the actual? Someone got out of bed, went to work and presented this as a good idea they had thought of? And then Avanti went ahead with it?’

A second posted: ‘Wow. That’s just embarrassing.’

A third wrote: ‘This has made me so angry. My wife has been through the menopause and it was no joke.’ 

And another commented: ‘Just pathetic! So demeaning and patronising, who on earth thought this was a good idea?’ 

It’s the latest controversy to rock the rail firm, with commuters across Britain crippled by a series of walkouts and a nine-day ban on overtime earlier this month, which impacted trains run by the likes of Avanti.

Mick Whelan, Aslef’s general secretary, has previously said that Avanti has ‘consistently let down rail staff’. 

The union has heavily criticised Avanti for not employing enough drivers to deliver services it has promised passengers. 

Last month, Avanti were also blasted for referring to taxpayer funding as ‘free money’ at an internal meeting with managers.

The Aslef post has been seen by more than 10,000 users already and has sparked outrage in the comments

The Aslef post has been seen by more than 10,000 users already and has sparked outrage in the comments

The meeting, which took place on January 12, involved a presentation which mocked taxpayer funding as ‘free money’ and described how train operators are given performance-based bonuses even if services are below par.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said at the time: ‘Avanti is one of the worst rail companies in terms of performance and how it treats rail staff.

‘For senior management to produce a PowerPoint slide bragging about the Government paying them public money is a disgrace.’

Avanti hit back at the criticism of their menopause gift bags and said it has undertaken a wide range of menopause support initiatives and are planning to do more.

Menopause is a natural process that every woman will experience, but its symptoms can be debilitating. 

These include physical changes like hot flushes, interrupted sleep and muscle aches, as well as things like low mood and brain fog.

Menopause is when your periods stop due to lower hormone levels. It usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, but can also happen significantly earlier.

It is a normal part of ageing and caused by levels of the sex hormone oestrogen dropping.

HRT replaces the hormones and is the main treatment used to treat symptoms — which can be severe and disrupt day-to-day life.

Menopause happens when your ovaries stop producing as much of the hormone oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month.

An Avanti West Coast spokesperson said: ‘This is a gift bag designed and created by our own in-house Menopause Support Group and derived from a suggestion from a colleague based on her own personal experience. It is part of a much wider and well-used package of support provided by Avanti West Coats, as part of our commitment to be a proud Menopause Friendly Employer.

‘Over the course of the last year, Avanti West Coast has undertaken a wide range of menopause support initiatives including launching guidance for colleagues and managers, creating a support group on internal channels – which is a safe space for women to chat and seek support around menopause and perimenopause as well as setting up specialist library, giving staff free access to books on the subject.’



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