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.