Invisible Cities have announced that their family friendly guided walking tours are back open and available to book, following the recent lock down which forced all of their guides into isolation for several months.
The social enterprise trains people who have previously experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides of their own city, and offers themed family friendly tours across the UK including Manchester.
Invisible Cities says it doesn’t believe in labels or stereotypes. They want to show that everyone has great potential.
They train people affected by homelessness to become walking tour guides of their own city and offer these alternative tours to tourists and locals. Their training focuses on confidence building, public speaking and customer service. And they partner with professional tour guides to build bespoke tours and practice their routes.
Manchester tours include “off the cobbles” with Danny, who shows people the city’s streets as he has lived them, and a guided walk with Laura, who looks at the history of inspirational Mancunian women who have influenced her journey of transition.
Safety for all guides and guests remains a key priority, with the tours now welcoming smaller groups of up to 10 people, with safe distancing applying for people who are not from the same household.
Guides will also be wearing plastic visors and using a voice amplifier.
Customers will be offered the opportunity to purchase a disposable mask at check out when booking their tours, and guides will hand these out at the start of each tour as well as disposing of them at the end of the walk.
They will also be able to leave a cashless tip for their guide directly, via a QR code on the tour.
According to Shelter, an estimated 320,000 people are homeless in the UK. This equates to one in every 201 people living in the UK and was an increase of four per cent on the previous year’s number.
Shelter says its figures, which include rough sleepers and people in temporary accommodation, are likely to be an underestimate of the problem as they do not capture people who experience “hidden” homelessness, such as sofa-surfers, and others living insecurely in sheds or cars, for example.
“These numbers are far too high, and we must work as a nation to lower them,” says Invisible Cities founder Zakia Moulaoui Guery.
“Invisible Cities raises awareness about homelessness and through our tours, we aim at change perceptions and break down the stigma that exists around it.
“We want to take all of our tour guests on a journey through the lives of those who find themselves homeless, finding their motivation to be the best version of themselves.”
And for the moment, the tours are going ahead as planned, despite the increased measures in Manchester.
“We follow governments guidelines in all our cities and keep a close eye on what is going on locally,” says Zakia.
“Of course we are excited to see guests again and our livelihood depends on it but if we have to suspend tours again, we will.
“At the moment we are just enjoying seeing guests return and we are ensuring everyone, including our guides follow our safety measures.”