Voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations are being encouraged to bid for government-backed grants to set up schemes to support women’s health in the workplace, especially menopause and pregnancy loss.
The initiative by the Department of Health and Social Care is offering grants of between £200,000 to £600,000 to VCSE bodies that specialise in women’s wellbeing services.
The grants, one per applicant, will be available over the next three years and will allow organisations working in this area to expand and develop projects or programme, said the DHSC.
The funding is in particular intended to support projects and programmes working with communities to provide training for small and medium enterprises where internal support is unlikely to be available.
It is also designed to support individuals by signposting to clinical services, and helping them to address personal and workplace barriers to improve their wellbeing.
The DHSC pointed out that moving from employment to unemployment is estimated to increase GP consultation rates for an individual by 50% because of its impact on people’s health.
Supporting people in work therefore not only helps them as individuals but reduces the pressure on the NHS, it argued.
Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said: “Millions of women work across the country and all employers should have plans to ensure the right support is in place for women experiencing reproductive issues and the menopause.”
Prof Geeta Nargund, co-founder of the Ginsburg Women’s Health Board, senior NHS consultant and medical director at CREATE Fertility, said: “The government’s grant funding for workplace support of women’s reproductive health is a very welcome step. It is vital that women have access to the support and protection they need with their reproductive health in their places of work if we are to tackle the gender health gap – through this grant, the government will be able to help employers in achieving this.
“While the grant is currently focused on the VCSE sector, my hope is that it could prove a useful blueprint for expanding workplace reproductive support to all sectors,” she added.
The government has said it also intends to publish a women’s health strategy later this year and appoint a women’s health ‘ambassador’.
In December, it published a ‘vision’ for women’s health, setting out a range of key government commitments on women’s health and inequality.
The application portal for the VCSE grant fund opened last Friday (13 May) and will close on Friday 5 August.