Coaching and mentoring


It isn’t an exaggeration to say that coaching and mentoring has transformed my life. Action-learning sets and informal group sharing with peers have also been important for learning and growth.

When a coach summarises or pulls out a theme from what I say, it helps me to notice my thoughts in a fresh way. When I’m asked the right question, it dares me to think bigger and broader than before. When I’m offered full attention, without judgment or advice, it creates a supportive space for me to unleash my best. 

What I offer

‘Shilpa is a really compassionate and empowering coach.’

I offer coaching and mentoring to clients who do (or want to do) community-building in their organisation, movement or neighbourhood, placing equality and empowerment at the heart of their approach. 

I first formally offered coaching through Women Making A Difference, whose training and peer support were invaluable. I have since worked with many change-makers and developed my own style that is both gentle and challenging,

I work one-to-one and also with small groups of peers/colleagues, either privately or through your organisation. I draw on my community building and song-leading experience and honour physical, emotional and spiritual needs, as well as intellectual.

Often an initial project-based query – eg ‘I need help to design an inclusive strategy planning process for my team’ – unpacks broader, deeper questions such as –

  • How do I build equal, positive relationships with colleagues?
  • What helps me and my team feel healthy, strong and supported?
  • How has my gender/race/age/class/disability/etc affected my experience at work?
  • What does self-care mean for me and the groups I’m part of?
  • What do I think about my ‘voice’? How do I use it?
  • How do I use my time more effectively?

How you can expect me to work with you

I will

  • Co-design a Ways of Working agreement with you, based on how you like to learn and expectations of each other. This includes an exploration of coaching and mentoring methods and agreeing which you find most suitable
  • Build self-care and gentleness into our ways of working together.
  • Support you to clarify your learning goals for the session/s
  • Draw on a variety of methods as appropriate – this could include creative tasks, relaxation exercises.
  • Offer regular reviews, asking ‘what’s working well?’ and ‘what could be better?’
  • Jointly agreeing tasks for you to do in between sessions to help you meet your goals

Meetings are held in person (in and around London, UK) or via Skype or phone. I prefer to work with a client for at least three sessions. To explore one to one or group coaching/mentoring, either privately or through your organisation, please contact me for an initial discussion




Shilpa is very much about the individual, the group and the journey, as opposed to quick delivery, hitting targets and forgettable moments. Creating a supportive group of Women of Colour has been life changing, helping me address my experiences of being oppressed and hear others as well as get nourished. The trust, safety and support of others like me has meant that I continue to get replenished whenever my cup runs low. 121’s have also been extremely useful as Shilpa is very perceptive, and gentle even when she is encouraging you to be critical of thoughts, ideas or concepts. She is open about her own experience and does not make out she is perfect, which makes our conversations feel real. Breathing exercises I have learnt in these 121s have helped me at times of extreme tension — Penny Wangari – Jones, Racial Justice Network


PIRCShilpa combines coaching and mentoring with campaign strategy, liberation practice, meditative grounding and organisational development. She has a breadth of knowledge and experience. Not only that, she’s a great listener and is extremely responsive to both individual and group dynamics. She helped me clarify and focus, both on my own needs and those of others, more than anyone else I’ve worked with.  Richard Hawkins, Director, Public Interest Research Company



Shilpa is a really compassionate and empowering coach. What is really unique about working with Shilpa is her wide range of experiences, expertise and skills she brings to the table. Throughout our sessions, we created goals, explored my values and how I treat myself. I found doing breath work before each session both gave me tangible techniques to use for myself, but also really opened each session with a sense of calmness and intention. The work we did together on compassionate communication, and learning about non violent communication was integral in my ongoing recovery from vicarious trauma. This has helped me to rediscover my voice and assert my needs in a way in which I empower both and give to myself as well as others.  — Meg Kissack, Founder of That Hummingbird Life and The Couragemakers Podcast 


Community Builder and Organisational Consultant


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Organisational Consultant – programme design and delivery

Helping people to create lasting and meaningful change in themselves, their organisations and communities*.

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A creative workshop for women, asking ‘What does my voice mean to me? How do I strengthen my voice?’ 

My approach to community building and empowerment

Creative community building methods offer engaging and inclusive ways for people to

  • articulate their needs
  • appreciate their differences
  • form a clear vision for change
  • feel empowered to take action
  • access necessary resources.

I also draw on years of facilitation experience and training in group dynamics and participatory methods. I sneak in some group singing when I can.

My first community building project worked with women and young people through Self Employed Women’s Association in India. I used film-making and arts workshops to help develop knowledge on health issues and community rights. And to support residents to push for better sanitation facilities in their shanty town in Ahmedabad.

I learnt the importance of listening, always starting with people’s stories and dreams. How asking good questions is better than offering answers. How creative and visual methods are more effective than just discussion.

I brought this learning back to the UK, to community groups (see Akashi), schools and campaign groups. I led the Rights and Justice Community Empowerment programme at Friends of the Earth from 2008 – 2012.

In each project, I support groups to connect individual, group and institutional/system change by asking

  • What helps you feel healthy, strong and supported?
  • How do we connect more equally and supportively with each other?
  • How does feeling stronger and more connected to each other help us to create the change we need?

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Examples of recent projects

Here are three projects I enjoyed working on recently.

1)   The System Changers programme, empowering frontline workers working with some of the most marginalised people in the UK, to look at how power and identity affects their agency at work.

system-changersWhen developing the Systems Changers programme, we knew we needed to start with them as individuals and their own beliefs about themselves. Shilpa planned her input brilliantly and thoughtfully, taking into account who the cohort were and creating a space for them to feel both safe but stretched. Exploring the labels they give themselves, one another and others around them was a transformative experience for them and essential for them at the start of their journeys as change makers. Shlipa was lovely to work with, curious, engaged and brilliant at giving and receiving feedback. The cohort rated her session as one of the most pivotal in the duration of the programme and we will definitely want to involve Shilpa in the programme as we grow it nationally. – Cassie Robinson, System Changers

2) Empathetic Minds.

I worked with conflict-mediator Rif Sharif to design and deliver the Empathetic Minds project at a Tower Hamlets Primary School. This was a whole-school project to build empathy skills and increase wellbeing in the school community. We engaged parents, staff and students, introducing mindfulness techniques, non-violent communication and skills-building games. Community asset-mapping sessions across all these groups ensured our design was participative and building on the school’s strengths.  


‘It made my fear go away and calm and it made me happy. I loved it when we did the games and the breathing. I also liked the acting because I told everyone my feelings and it felt like we were kinder to each other’ – Year 4 participant in Empathetic Minds project


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Sharing our strengths. Community asset-mapping at a primary school in Tower Hamlets

3)   Keeping Memories: Rwandans in the UK

I designed and delivered an evaluation process for Rwandan Youth Information Community Organisation (rYico), for this flagship Heritage Lottery funded project. Instead of a tick-box one-off exercise, I believe that evaluation should be an ongoing and empowering learning experience, where participants can reflect on the success of a project against objectives that have been collectively designed.

ryico logo square“Shilpa’s innovative, ethical and thoroughly human approach, which provided us with highly useable qualitative and quantitative data, ensured the production of an honest report that aided organisational learning and prompted the development of new projects. The two workshops that she facilitated allowed participants to learn and benefit directly from the process, feeling safe, valued and included in the project as a whole. Shilpa’s invaluable input moved rYico’s work more fully into the sphere of participatory action – Dan Godshaw, former UK Programme Coordinator, rYico

What I offer.

  • Helping you clarify your programme objectives and strategy design
  • Community research using participatory methods and report writing
  • Workshop design and delivery, often using visual or arts-based methods
  • Participatory evaluation design and delivery
  • One to one or group coaching or mentoring for people leading community building projects, supporting you to work alongside others in creative and respectful ways
  • And more! Please contact me to discuss

Who do I work with:

I work with groups and organisations who aim to

  • promote wellbeing and justice amongst people and the natural world
  • transform the power dynamic between the mainstream and the margin in any community (shaking up hierarchies of race, gender, age, class, sexual orientation, disability, language differences and formal education)
  • prioritise the leadership and stories of people whose voices are not usually heard at the heart of your approach
  • support people to unleash their own leadership capacity and find their own solutions. You work with communities, not do things to them.
  • develop a compassionate culture. You believe kindness and self-care is a collective and essential way of working

A lot of my experience has been with women, young people and People of Colour/BAMER communities including refugees and asylum seekers. 

(*’Communities’ can mean communities of place, aspects of identity or a shared interest)

I am based in London and travel in the UK and internationally for work. For more practical details about working with me, see here. If you are planning a community building project and are interested in what I offer, please contact me to tell me your plans and find out more about how I work. 





shilpa shah

singing leaderMy Heart Sings 

My Heart Sings uses singing, better breathing and gentle movement to support marginalised women and children to build self-esteem and stronger voices. Find out more here.



singing leaderSinging for Health and Wellbeing facilitator

Singing workshops to boost health and wellbeing, particularly supporting better breathing for people with respiratory conditions and positive mental healthFind out more here.


singing leaderSinging at your workplace or event

Bringing colleagues or family members together with song – a fun, uplifting and energising moment! Find out more here.

Singing at your workplace or event

singing for your event

Singing workshops in work, community and family settings. Absolutely no previous experience of singing is required to enjoy them. I charge according to the size of your organisation/group and the length of workshop and travelling time. Please contact me to discuss your requirements.

Singing at your workplace

‘Shilpa brought such a lot of energy and I felt truly uplifted afterwards.’

Stress is a huge cause of ill health in the workplace. Whilst the root causes of overwork need to be addressed and individual support provided in the first instance, offering regular group activities such as singing can support good health and mental health.

The very first singing group I led was a lunchtime office choir. My colleagues and I were going through a difficult redundancy process. Our weekly sing had an uplifting impact which lasted all week. It brought people from different departments and different levels of seniority together, as equals.

I do not run traditional formal workplace choirs. My singing workshops are designed specifically to promote health and wellbeing. They can be standalone or part of a series. Each workshop is inclusive to all. I believe singing is a birthright for all of us. No previous singing experience is required.

I start with gentle movement, stretching and breathing exercises. Fun warm up games encourage laughter and relaxation. I usually teach simple songs by ear, with harmonies or interlocking parts that encourage listening and teamwork. I draw on a huge variety of songs, from different eras and parts of the world and with varying levels of energy.

If you would like to discuss singing workshops for your workplace, please contact me

singing at your workplace‘Shilpa ran a series of Singing for Wellbeing lunchtime sessions for us at HM Treasury, along with a few other government departments. The sessions were like taking a big deep breath in and feeling a lot better. The stress of work can be hard, and it is easy in that environment to feel isolated from colleagues and also your own wellbeing. Shilpa brought such a lot of energy and I felt truly uplifted afterwards. The rest of the day passed much more pleasantly.’ –E Sadler – civil servant, London

Singing at your work or community event

Conferences can be boring. Lots of talking, presentations and thinking can leave us feeling drained. A short singing workshop is an unorthodox yet exciting addition to an event programme. Singing relaxes the body and expresses emotions, so can have an energising impact.

No previous singing experience is required – I believe ‘if you can talk, you can sing’. Whether participants know each other or are meeting for the first time, I will help them overcome awkwardness and stretch, relax, and play. I will use a song relevant for your event to create connection and a sense of group achievement.

A singing workshop for your event can be as short as 15 minutes, though 45-60 minutes works best. All that is needed is a space for participants to sit, ideally in a circle. It can be a break-out workshop or in plenary. A popular option is to run a break-out workshop, then support the participants to perform in the closing plenary (invariably tempting the whole room to join in!).

If you would like to discuss singing at your work or community event, please contact me.

singing at your workplace
An uplifting song to close the Black Feminist conference at the Royal Festival Hall in London, March 2015

Singing at your family event

Family events can gather our threads of community together and weave a stronger sense of connection. Singing a relevant song together can add magic – and it need only take 15 minutes. I have led songs at weddings/civil partnership ceremonies, naming ceremonies, memorial services, birthday parties, mehndi nights etc, creating an inclusive, memorable moment for groups from 10 to 400 people.  

If you would like to discuss singing at your family event, please contact me.

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It was such a special and unique moment. It was exactly what we hoped for – a time for everyone to stop chatting, drinking etc and come together as a community. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts Eve and Nic – Thank you card after Eve and Nic’s wedding in June 2015

Singing for Health and Wellbeing facilitator

singing for health

There is increasing evidence confirming that singing helps health conditions such as chronic breathing problems, mental health, Parkinsons, Alzheimers. Singing can support particular outcomes such as better lung function, a reduced reliance on inhalers or improved memory. Singing in a group promotes a better connection with our bodies and breathing, as well as with other singers in the group. This can reduce isolation and creates a sense of achievement and strength. 

I have particular experience in singing for people with chronic breathing problems and singing for positive mental healthI am currently leading singing for breathing groups for a Sidney de Haan Centre research project. I also sing with people with mental health difficulties including for local Mind groups and in prisons and immigration detention centres.

In addition to musical, physical and emotional understanding, I bring my community development and facilitation experience. This helps me to quickly create trust and support those who feel less confident to thrive in the group.

I work in a variety of health, institutional and community settings. If you would like to discuss Singing for Health and Wellbeing sessions for your group or organisation, please contact me.


sidneydehann-2Shilpa has been a singing facilitator with our Singing for Better Breathing project since December 2014. She works energetically and sensitively with participants and is always attentive to their needs. She is a great enabler and helps people to pay attention to their bodies and breathing and engage with others through singing.The films we have made from the project illustrate her joyful style better than any words.  – Stephen Clift, Director, Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health



Shilpa immediately melds together a very disparate group. She makes the whole thing fun and we laugh a lot. She explains the purpose and point of any exercise we are doing and then encourages people individually, while making sure that everybody is trying their best. Feedback email from a singer at Clapham Surgery group


My Heart Sings

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My Heart Sings supports women who are usually unheard in UK society to build positive relationships with themselves and with each other and strengthen their voices to help create change.

My Heart Sings works particularly with groups and organisations of (self-identifying) women who are women of colour/BAMER, including

  • refugees and asylum seekers
  • survivors of gender-based violence
  • experiencing mental health difficulties
  • staff and volunteers supporting these women and their families


My Heart Sings workshops with your group or organisation

My Heart Sings started as a weekly women’s group in central London. I have since developed work in UK prisons, Yarl’s Wood detention centre and with groups and organisations working with marginalised women across London.

Singing together has great healing potential. Working with Women and Girls Network deepened my understanding of the impact of trauma on our body and emotional state. I became curious to learn more and develop supportive tools. The My Heart Sings model for workshops aims to help women develop their connection with the present moment, their body and each other with gentleness and openness. I adapt breathing, gentle yoga movement and voice exercises and choose soothing and empowering songs. I also support women to express themselves by sharing songs which are meaningful for them.

My Heart Sings now delivers workshops for women’s groups and organisations, to support self-care and empowerment programmes.

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What you can expect from a My Heart Sings workshop


People can often feel nervous about singing. I start a workshop by sharing my philosophy about singing and voice – singing is our birthright, not something that only people who ‘are good’ can do. I believe everyone’s voice has something to contribute to a circle of voices….

To receive more detailed information My Heart Sings workshops and to discuss the needs of women in your group or organisation, please contact me

You can read more about the activities of My Heart Sings on the blog here.


women-and-girls-network“My Heart Sings” literally says what it means. It wasn’t only my heart, but my body, mind and spirit were all singing and vibrating on a higher frequency  during and after the magical session’-– Michelle Springer-Benjamin, Training Manager, Women and Girls Network, after a self-care session for staff and volunteers


community builderCommunity Building and Organisational Consultant 

Support to design and deliver community building programmes that develop relationships and positive action in communities in a more equal, empowering and creative way. Find out more here.

community builderCoaching and Mentoring

One to one and group support for people who place equality, wellbeing and empowerment at the heart of their work, working directly or through your organisation. Find out more here.


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Creative and inclusive facilitation for workshops, meetings, away days and residentials.

Face to face quality time together is precious for any group. You might develop new ideas, decide a strategy, learn new skills. You will also get to know each other better and develop your group’s culture and understanding of how you work best together. It’s worth investing in making your meeting the best it can be – a well designed workshop, away-day or residential can create powerful ripples of lasting change.

I offer creative and inclusive workshop design and facilitation to help you make your meeting effective, enjoyable and empowering.

I aim to facilitate warm and safe group experiences to help a group surface underlying truths, unlock collective intelligence and design the best possible solutions, together. When people feel included and safe to be themselves, it helps to soften judgments of each other, appreciate differences and cultivate trust.

Who I work with

I work as a facilitator with a huge variety of groups and organisations, including international campaigning NGOs, charities, public sector bodies, schools and small local community groups. My workshop design and facilitation style is particularly suitable for those who:

  • Support the leadership of those with lived experience of the issues they work on. You work alongside communities, not doing things to them.
  • Aim to nurture more equal and healthy relationships in their organisation. My facilitation style aims to disrupt the usual taken-for-granted power hierarchies, making space for disagreement and for marginalised voices to be heard
  • Are keen to use creative methods and increase participation in decision making

How I work

If you need a facilitator and think I may be a good fit, please contact me to explore how I might work with you in more detail. You can also read some more general information about how I work here


 An international team share what motivates them and their wishes for the team's work on a giant tree mural.
An international team share what motivates them and their wishes for the team’s work on a giant tree mural.

Please see here for some more practical details about working with me. If you are interested in what I offer, please contact me for an initial discussion.

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PIRCShilpa’s facilitation is spacious, gentle, kind, and challenging. She led my organisation through a whistle-stop tour of participation and pedagogy, and simultaneously eased and smoothed our communication patterns. The subtle new ways we learnt to be with each other through that session played a significant part in enabling our subsequent shift to a flat management structure. Her session with us last year really helped me, and us, understand and appreciate each other better. I don’t think our transition to flat would have been anything like as easy without it. – Elena Blackmore, Public Interest Research Company, Wales

GPI_Podcast_Logo“Shilpa co-facilitated our large global meeting, which brought together 100 network members from many places including Indonesia, the DRC, Cameroon, South and North America, China and Europe. She encouraged the small agenda team to involve folks more at the margins of our network in guiding the event. She also helped lead a playful intervention which helped raise consciousness about inclusion and better communication for non-native English speakers within our group. In both instances, these well facilitated interventions established foundational practices that we’ve tried to take forward into our ongoing work. – Matt Daggett, Global Campaign Leader at Greenpeace International


“Hearing from other women of colour helped me feel stronger about fighting racism, sexism and homophobia in my life. You held the space really well and I enjoyed the role-play games though I thought it would be scary. The other women’s stories were inspiring – you all helped me to see hope. Thank you – Feedback from participant in a Tackling Every day Racism and Sexism workshop in London