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Welcome to Facilitation Stories, where we discover how facilitators ended up in the profession, and how facilitation methods, principles and techniques are used more widely. Brought to you by IAF England and Wales. For more information on our chapter, click here.

Feb 28, 2023

In today's episode, Helene talks to Catherine Wilks about her experience of running a session at last year's conference. They talk about The Shoopery, working on instinct and play, adapting the plan as you go along, the power of letting go and the plans for the April 2023 conference. 

Catherine was introduced to the IAF and the idea that she may actually be a facilitator by Cat Duncan Rees (IAF England and Wales Treasurer).

She set up the Shoopery with Pip and Alfie. Having met at a Mental Health organisation and used mental health services themselves, they realised that there was the need for something to happen in between waiting for appointments. They developed lots of different ideas and workshops and realised they were good at helping people let go. 

Enter “the Shoop”. Everybody’s Shoop can be different – which Catherine describes as positive, upbeat, out of your comfort zone experiences. When people experience their shoop, they say that at the point of letting go they are comfortable with being themselves.

People don’t just want to cope with life, but live. Through their sessions, Catherine and her colleagues help bring things out that may have been squashed for a while and this helps people know that they matter.

"If you know that you matter, that changes everything in life."

At last year’s conference, everybody ended up talking about lemons. Catherine explains what the lemons were about, the “toy of the conference”, and she talks about wanting to make surprising things happen. 

Their session at the conference had 3 times more people attending than expected and so they ended up running it outside. The aim was to try out lots of different things and to get to the point when people start to bond and trust each other and learn to work as a group.

Throughout the session, they had conversations about what letting go feels like, what gets in the way and what helps. The aim was to do something that you didn’t think you would do through little Shoop nudges. 

Catherine has learnt that actually she is a facilitator and that the conference is a really wonderful space to test things out. She felt everyone was really supportive and she now feels part of the community.

She has volunteered to help organise this year’s conference which is at a Quaker House in Birmingham this April 2023. Tickets are already selling and lots of people are talking about it – the forms are also out now for submitting their session ideas.

Catherine will be doing another session at this year’s conference about awakening instinct. She is excited about the conference themes around professional development and peer support and talks about how facilitation is such a diverse field that there are those who don’t call themselves facilitators, but are using facilitation in their work. 

Find out more about Catherine at and on Twitter 

And connect with Helene via Twitter too. 

Find out more about the IAFEW conference in April and get tickets here:

And connect with us on Twitter: @fac_stories or