Exploring London and changing lives with Unseen Tours
The social enterprise offering a route
back for the homeless
"Before I started to work with Unseen Tours, I was living on the streets of Shoreditch. I was very happy when I was offered the opportunity to lead tours in the area, because it gave me a way to earn a regular income and to help change perceptions of people who are homeless. The reality is, it can happen to any one of us, for all sorts of reasons, and we don't all fit the homeless stereotype. Working as a guide for Unseen Tours has changed my life. I still lead tours around the area of London that I know and love best, but now I am renting and I’m hopeful about what the future holds." – Henri.
Henri came to London to study for a degree in interior design, before working as a painter and decorator for several years. He married and bought a home, but became homeless when his relationship ended. He has been leading the Shoreditch Street Art, Street Cred tour for the last five years.
Unseen Tours is an award-winning, not-for-profit social enterprise founded in 2010. It offers alternative walking tours through London's most vibrant and interesting neighbourhoods, with homeless and formerly homeless guides. As well as winning a Responsible Tourism Award and an Observer Ethical Award, the tours get excellent reviews on Tripadvisor and offer a unique insight into London life, while giving visibility and a voice to people who often feel unseen and unheard.
To celebrate their fifth birthday Unseen Tours is running a special promotion throughout September. Customers who book a standard ticket in advance can bring a friend along for free, making the cost of the tour just £5 per person. There is no need to enter an offer code at the point of booking, or to notify the guide in advance – for every person who books a standard priced ticket, one friend can simply show up for free.
The tours have been enjoyed by Londoners and tourists for the past five years. Cris, one of Unseen Tours' guides, explains why it appeals to both: "There are lots of tours to choose from in London, but we aim to offer something a bit different, to give people a unique perspective that they won’t find on other tours or in guide books. That’s why Unseen Tours appeal to Londoners who have lived here all their lives, as well as people who are visiting the city for the first time."
“When people come on my Brick Lane tour, I want them to have fun, to be entertained, to learn new things about London, but I also hope that after their tour they might see homeless people in a different light and better understand how gentrification of the area is impacting people’s lives.“
To book your tour please visit the Unseen Tours website.
The above article by Nisha Kotecha first published on goodnewsshared.com in Aug, 2015.