Want to do something a bit different to your standard walking tour, and support a social enterprise? Let a homeless guide lead you through the streets of London for a tour you’ll never forget…
Award-winning Unseen Tours has expanded its London itinerary with a revamped Brixton tour and a new London Bridge tour. The walking tours, all led by homeless and formerly homeless guides, aim to be fun, amaze and entertain as well as offer new perspectives on the city – and £6 from every ticket sold goes straight to the guide.
After an 18-month break in the area, Unseen Tours returns to vibrant Brixton with the Brixton Tour- Dynamic and Vibrant (£10, 1hr 45mins). On the walk, you can discover the area’s hidden gems, from the river to a restored windmill, and a prison that has been home to more than a few famous names. Led by Hazel, a local lady who became homeless after her marriage ended, the tour explores Brixton’s varied history from the riots of the 1980s to its reinvention as a Transition Town with its own currency, the Brixton Pound.
A new version of the London Bridge Tour – Mysterious Alleys, Hidden Pathways (£10, 1hr 45mins) starts in August and is led by David who became homeless for a short period 11 years ago when the tenancy agreement on his flat was terminated while he was in hospital.
David’s tour follows the Thames along the South Bank before delving into Borough’s more mysterious alleyways, taking in one of the world’s greatest food markets, the infamous Clink prison and a secret archaeological dig. The tour ends at one of the city’s oldest pubs.
Faye Shields, co-founder of Unseen Tours says, “All of our tours are designed in partnership with the guides to reflect their interests and knowledge of the area, so with David joining us as a new guide our London Bridge tour is having a refresh.”
Unseen Tours aims to provide income and opportunities for the homeless, and for formerly homeless individuals trying to get back on their feet, but it also aims to challenge perceptions of homelessness, which are often based on stereotypes. “Homelessness can happen to anyone, for all sorts of reasons such as redundancy, relationship breakdown, or illness,” says Shields. “Our hope is that by spending time with Hazel, David or another Unseen Tour guide, people may rethink those stereotypes.”
The tours, and their guides, continue to gain rave reviews on TripAdvisor with previous participants calling it “incredible“, “mind blowing” and “inspiring“. One reviewer said “having never been on a tour like this I wasn’t quite prepared for just how fantastic it would be”!
Not-for-profit social enterprise Unseen Tours was set up in 2010 and has been recognised with a Responsible Tourism Award and an Observer Ethical Award. There are now six tours, in Brick Lane, Brixton, Camden, Covent Garden, London Bridge and Shoreditch. The tours get excellent reviews and offer a unique insight into London life – while giving visibility and a voice to people who often feel unseen and unheard.
To book any of the tours mentioned, and for more information, visit www.unseentours.co.uk.