Take a walking tour with a difference: Discover Invisible Cities

We are incredibly excited to bring in a guest blogger this week! We invited Zakia Moulaoui to talk about her city tours, Invisible Cities. Invisible Cities is a social enterprise that trains people who have experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides of their own city.

We can’t think of a better way to support local and see our beautiful city in ways we would have never expected!

@invisiblecitiestours

If like me, you regularly suffer from a touch of wonderlust ( referring to a strong desire to travel.) the last year or so has been incredibly difficult. No longer being able to travel internationally and having the ability to even discover other cities in Scotland greatly reduced, has made me find a brand new appreciation for my local area. But it has also confirmed what I already knew: travel is one of the most important thing to me. I really believe it has the power to change your life, your perceptions and ideas. You meet new people, taste new food or are faced with new cultures and all combined it makes your life a lot more interesting. 

My love for travel is one of the reasons why I set up award-winning social enterprise Invisible CIties, 5 years ago. The other reason being my experience working with people affected by homelessness, not only in Scotland but around the world. How do the two come together you ask? At Invisible Cities, we train people who have experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides of their own city and offer alternative walking tours to tourists, locals and residents. Our tours our designed by our guides themselves and are packed with stories of their favourite monuments and places but also personal anecdotes and interests. After starting in Edinburgh in 2016, we are now established in 5 cities around the UK, with guides offering tours of Glasgow, Manchester, York and Cardiff (coming soon)!

By coming on a tour, you get to discover a city in a unique way, not only when it comes to social issues (which we discuss) but also because we highlight lesser known stories, characters and campaigns. 100% of the people who have been on one, have said they learnt something new, and sometimes they were born and raised in these cities. 

The quality of our tour is not the only thing that makes them great- and don’t just trust me on that: in 2021, we were voted Best Community Tour by Lonely Planet for their Best in Travel List. As a social enterprise, 100% of our profit is reinvested into training more people or creating more impact in our local communities. So you are also doing something positive along the way. Our guides go through training that is often delivered in partnership with professionals within the hospitality and tourism industry, like hotels or heritage organisations. We focus on transferable skills such as public speaking or customer service, so they can take them to other jobs or opportunities. And each person receives one to one support to achieve goals they have set up. If you are interested in our impact, you can read our Impact Report Here.

After the chaotic year we have just had, we are finally all back on the road and all our guides, whether in Edinburgh or Glasgow are so keen to be meeting you and meeting new people regularly. They have new stories to tell (as we also used the lock downs to work on our content) and old familiar places to take you through. So what are you waiting for? Are you coming?

To book a tour, please visit: Book a Tour (invisible-cities.org)

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