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Scroll down to find all the latest news, views and opinion from Invisible Cities!

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As part of our social impact, we have started the Street Barber (Edinburgh) in the Scottish capital, since the end of 2017. To date, we have given free shaves and haircuts, as well as toiletries and hot drinks to over 80 homeless men.

"Why only men?" we have been asked. So this year we are bringing Sparkle Sisters: an event aimed at homeless women where, with the help of an amazing team of volunteers we bring haircuts, podiatry and bra fitting services, nail treatments as well as free clothes and toiletries.

Our second Sparkle Sisters Event took place on Thursday 24th January at St Columba's Free Church and it was a success: around 20 women felt pampered and taken care of for the day.

Once participant said "My daughter and I felt like princesses!"

Invisible Cities Founder Zakia says: "Our events are all about bringing dignity back to people who need it the most. We felt that with women, we should have more privacy and more space to organise treatments. We are so lucky to have found the incredible team at St Columba's as not only do they provide us with a lovely space, but also amazing volunteers and cakes! The general public has also been wonderful in donating so many items of toiletries and clothing so we could pass them on to women. These events are a real team effort!"

We advertise our Sparkle Sisters Events through various agencies, such as Women's Aid, Social Bite or Grassmarket Community Project so they can let the women they work with know.

If you would like to donate toiletries or anything else for these events contact zakia@invisible-cities.org

Hear it from our Guides

Written on January 20, 2019
Paul Image

At Invisible Cities, our guides are at the centre of everything we do. So we have asked them to tell us, in their own voice, about their experience: how they first found out about Invisible Cities, what they prefer about their tours or what their goals and dreams are.


Today, we are starting with Paul, our Edinburgh guide. His tour, Leith: The Trainspotting Generation is getting more and more popular. Here is what he says:

"I first became involved with Invisible Cities in January 2018, after successfully completing my Tour Guide training. Right after, I then attended Edinburgh College and launched my own Tour in June last year during the Leith Festival. Since then I have done loads of Tours including working on Boxing Day and I had two Tours on New Year’s Day!

I really enjoyed working for Social Bite last April when we were part of the team that provided the tours in the Social Bite Village. I was also the first tour guide to do a tour in Glasgow on social enterprises and I have also done some social enterprise tours in Edinburgh with our founder and big boss Zakia.

Doing the research for my tours was amazing and has piqued an interest in gaining full time employment in this field and indeed I have recently attended an interview with 8 production companies including the BBC. I also got a full time temporary job as an Executive Chauffeur/ Tour Guide last year and this has given me the confidence to set up my own Tour Guide company in 2019. I am working with Crisis in applying for a Changing Lives Grant to set up my company, and Zakia has also been very supportive in this decision.

At Invisible (Edinburgh) we often receive guests, who tell us about their work, or the training they offer and after talking about writing with Sian from Edinburgh City of Literature, I have decided to write my own book! I have already written 4000 words.

Today, I also hope to become a mentor for one or two guides and help out as much as I can. But my ultimate dream is to become a motivational speaker, a TV / Radio presenter or researcher, as well as doing my tour guide work with Invisible Cities, so watch this space and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, as you can if you apply yourself properly, take responsibility, don’t self sabotage and try not to procrastinate too much! If I can achieve this, then anyone can, my word of the Year is EXUBERANCE, as if you are going to do something, do it with exuberance!"

Interested in booking Paul's tour? You can do it here!

Invisible Paul T

My word of the Year is EXUBERANCE, as if you are going to do something, do it with exuberance!

Invisible Cities going to York in 2019

Written on October 31, 2018
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We are excited to announce the arrival of our second Invisible Cities location in England, coming to you in 2019.
On Monday 29th October, Invisible (York) officially launched, following a partnership meeting that brought together local homelessness groups, tourism organisations and others interested in supporting our work.

Invisible (York) is being co-ordinated by a newly established Community Interest Company called ‘Good Organisation (Social Ventures)’ CIC, which aims to enable disadvantaged residents share in the economic benefits of the city’s thriving tourism industry

Kenny Lieske, a member of the York based team said, “York is an ideal location for tours run by local people who have experienced homelessness and we’re absolutely delighted to be part of the ever growing Invisible Cities network. The combined number of people visiting the city each year now exceeds 6.9 million, and over the past 5 years, the number of tourists visiting York has increased by 6%, mainly comprising of single day-visitors, with many people looking for ethical and authentic ways to explore the city.”

Invisible (York) has already attracted widespread public interest and has received a small start up grant from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which is a highly respected social policy organisation working to inspire social action and tackle the root causes of poverty.

Invisible (York) trainees will all travel to Edinburgh on December 5th 2018, to get together with all other Invisible Cities guides- in Edinburgh, Manchester and Glasgow. They will go to an Invisible (Edinburgh) tour, will get to know each and will take part in a customer service workshop.
We expect the full training to start in January 2019 and you will be able to book a York tour from April 2019.

If you would like to organise Invisible Cities Tours in your city or for any media related question, contact zakia@invisible-cities.org

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We are absolutely overjoyed to announce we are ready to launch our first Invisible (Manchester) tour with adopted Mancunion guide, Danny! His tour is called "Off the Cobbles" and his aim is to take people on a tour around Manchester so they can relate to homelessness through taking in art and poetry along the way.

An ex-veteran, Danny spent years of his life on the streets. It wasn’t until he came to Manchester that he found the support he needed to get him back on his feet. Nowadays, Danny is a successful poet, performing everywhere from the Albert Hall to the famed Manchester Cathedral. Despite this success, his experience of homelessness, and his passion for the homelessness crisis, permeates everything he does.

Each stop is marked with either a poignant poetry piece, written by Danny, or an anecdote from his time on the streets.

Danny is testament to the positive impacts that art and literature can have on an individual who has been, or still is, homeless. He provides the perfect lens through which to see how arts are improving the mental and emotional health of the homeless population in Manchester. With this in mind, this tour will make you stop and appreciate landmarks as emblematic as Manchester Cathedral down to singular pieces of street art in the Northern Quarter.

Danny's tour will be available on Saturdays at 11am and on Sundays at 2pm. For larger groups (6 people minimum) they can be arranged on request.

Bookings will be available here from October 20th so stay tuned!

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At Invisible (Glasgow) we are currently training local guides to bring you entertaining and high quality tours by the end of 2018!

But in the meantime, the team from Edinburgh travelled through to Glasgow on August 20th to offer a first taste of what those tours would be!

Delegates from the INSP conference (International Network of Street papers) were gathering in Glasgow for their annual meeting and 20 of them took part in our tester tour. Our Edinburgh based guide Paul took the group around a trail of Glasgow social enterprise, also highlighting what we do at Invisible Cities.

Back in 2016, the INSP played an essential role in inspiring and supporting us, so it was great being able to show them one of our tours!

Training for Glasgow is taking part on October 5th 6th and 7th with our first tour available to the public early November!Stay tuned for more information here.

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Doogie Goodstuff, brand ambassador for Buy the Good Stuff, and Claire Pattullo, CEO of Edinburgh Social Enterprise, joined Invisible Cities founder Zakia Moulaoui at the launch of out new tour developed to raise awareness of social enterprises in the city.

Buy the Goodstuff is Edinburgh’s Social Enterprise brand. When you see Doogie or the Buy the Good Stuff logo in shops or businesses you know that the profits are reinvested to address the most pressing issues, from homelessness and unemployment to waste reduction and climate change. Doogie also makes appearances at festivals and events to help spread the message further of the good work of social enterprise in Scotland.

Doogie’s next appearance will be at this year’s Social in the Gardens - Scotland's Festival of Social Enterprise, which captures the magic of some of the most incredible social enterprises in Edinburgh and beyond, bringing them together for 2 special days of music, comedy, dance, food and drink, as well as kids events. Social in the Gardens will be bigger and better this year due to the ongoing support from Scottish Government, Business Gateway, Link Group, PwC and the University of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Social Enterprise is delighted to join forces with Invisible Cities to promote this new tour which highlights some of the fantastic social enterprises that can be found in the city centre. It’s great to see one of our members developing an excellent product which creates added value for other members and raises awareness of social enterprise as an ethical business model”.
Claire Pattullo, CEO, Edinburgh Social Enterprise

Through our work at Invisible Cities, we have realised that the public is even more curious and eager to discover what social enterprises are and what they do. We get many request for me to speak to groups about our work, or for us to take people around a variety of organisations. That is why we decided to create this tour. And if we can highlight other great organisations along the way, it is even better!”
Zakia Moulaoui, Founder, Invisible Cities

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New Tour Coming to Edinburgh!

Written on June 05, 2018
Invisible Edinburgh Tours

As part of the Leith Festival 2018, Invisible (Edinburgh) is launching a brand new tour:

Leith: The Trainspotting Generation!

Paul, who finished his training with us a couple of months ago, has chosen Leith as the theme of his tour. Paul has spent most of his life in Leith and is a big fan of the Trainspotting books and films. As a result, his tour will focus on this part of Edinburgh, famous landmarks and details of the books/films.

The Leith Festival, which is an annual event celebrating all things Leith, will take place from Saturday 9th June to Sunday 17th June 2018 and the launch of Paul's tour will be part of the programme!

On June 15th at 3pm, visitors will be able to go on Paul's tour for the first time ever!

You can find more information about it and book your ticket here.

For more information on the Leith Festival, visit their Facebook Page

At Invisible (Edinburgh) we can't wait for Paul's Tour as we have already seen previews and know it will be amazing! Good luck Paul!

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Back in October 2017, our founder Zakia took part in the Ashoka Emerging Innovator Bootcamp that took place in Berlin. She spent 3 days with other European social entrepreneurs in the heart of the German capital. You can read more about her experience here.

It was in Berlin that Zakia met Libby, CEO of On Our Radar, a non-profit communications agency for unheard communities. They work with marginalised communities who hold deep insight into some of the world's most complex issues.

From this meeting, came an idea for collaboration.

And so, on Monday 23rd April, Invisible Cities, On Our Radar and The Brick Box, an arts organisation based in England, brought the Electric Fireside to Edinburgh for Community Conversations.

At the Leith Walk Police Box, our favourite venue in Edinburgh, we installed the electric fireside and asked people from the local community to gather around the fire and tell us about what matters to them.

Community Conversations is funded by Comic Relief and is using a participatory social research approach. Members of the community (the general public, local businesses, local organisations, etc) are brought together in a facilitated space to share dialogues around solutions, and through this process, the aim is to engage with communities in voicing their ideas and solution to Comic Relief.

The event took place from 4 to 8pm on Monday and was a real success! Many stopped by, shared insight on their communities around a cup of tea!

More photos from the event will be shared soon!

We would like to thank everyone for making this event happen: Monty, at the Leith Walk Police Box and all the volunteers who helped during the day.

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For general or press enquiries please contact Zakia:

+44 (0) 7500 773 709

zakia@invisible-cities.org