Hear it from The Guides: Angie’s Experience in Edinburgh

The reason why Invisible Cities was set up in 2016 is to support people who have experienced homelessness so they can have a voice, and become who they want to be.

We asked Angie, who launched her tour “Edinburgh- The Festival City” in 2017 and has since then been very busy getting involved in tons of other projects to tell us about her journey with Invisible Cities. Here is what she says:

“I was sitting at a table in Social Bite, Rose Street, in 2017, as the darkness started to fall, on a cold Edinburgh evening. Feeling contented and satisfied with the food I had just eaten, and with my life right now, I thought how fortunate I now am. I had experienced 6 challenging and difficult years of homelessness and alcohol addiction, and often spent time just sitting and contemplating the next best steps I needed to take, in order to keep moving my life forward in a positive direction. I used to feel that I was existing, more than I felt alive back then. Now, I was more addicted to doing fun and adventurous things with my life. I had this determination and commitment to keep on changing my life for the better, by taking on new challenges.

Then suddenly, as if by magic, Zak approached my table and asked me one question that interrupted all other thoughts…… Would I like to train to be a Tour Guide for her new Social Enterprise, INVISIBLE CITIES?

In my curiosity, I began to ask many questions and after a friendly conversation, I was left to think this opportunity over. Her team of Volunteers would be trained over a 2 month period with Courses in Confidence building, Customer Care, Communication skills and First Aid. All lunches and refreshments would be provided. There would be a chance to have a discussion with a trained Tour Guide, who would support you with the organization of your personal Tour.

The part that appealed to me the most, was that you were given the freedom to decide on your very own Tour. One that you could eventually share with both the visitors and locals of Edinburgh!

For most of my life, I had a passion for The Arts. Anything to do with Drama, The Theatre, Dance, Music, Live Performances, Poetry and Opera. Places where people can express themselves on any kind of stage and share their ideas and stories. I love the way people and communities can freely express themselves in so many diverse and different ways. In my Teaching days, I was like a Director of a Film, always encouraging others in front of me to shine! The whole idea of Festivals brought together everything that I always loved, and so this would be the idea behind my Tour.

After saying YES to Zak, it didn’t take me long to get into the flow of designing and building my Tour.

It was almost like preparing a special meal, for a very special friend.

From researching for information to include, talking to interesting people, bouncing off ideas to others and finding those golden nuggets of stories. Stories that not many people may have heard of, so as to add that extra bit of sparkle to your Tour! Combined with our 2 month Training Sessions and personal support from the Invisible (Edinburgh) Team, the time flew by. Before I knew it, I felt ready to join in on one of Zak’s Tours and take on a small role. At the end of this particular Tour, we all enjoyed some time together, talking and relaxing over refreshments and discussing any thoughts that could be useful in future Tours. Zak was continuously looking for ways to improve the experiences of future Tours.

In between training and practicing, I had a few meetings with a Professional Guide, who helped me with practical tips and recommended routes. This was extremely valuable to me, as was some previous Trainees sharing their most important insights!

Not long after I qualified as a Tour Guide, I was asked to start thinking about who I would like to have join me on my first Tour. This was a joy in itself, because I had the chance to promote my love of the Tour I designed and practice the Art of selling my idea on to others.

I will always have very fond memories of my very first Tour, as I stood proudly and ready to put all of my ideas into action, in front of The Festival Theatre, Edinburgh. It was a mixed feeling of nerves and excitement that energized me to do my very best. Afterwards, the felt like I had put some ‘WOW’ back into my life again! Just from this whole experience!

Thankfully, all of the feedback I had was positive and encouraging. Everyone loved joining me afterwards at The Jazz Bar, to celebrate my first Tour, relax, unwind and share some thoughts.

2 years on, my life is still constantly growing and changing. I am currently looking for creative ways to include building Tours into my Well-Being Coaching, that I qualified in last year.

This is a work in progress, yet living proof, that my experience of training to become a Tour Guide, has been an experience I treasure.

One that I will always be able to use as I go through my life and that will definitely benefit others people’s lives in some way, as they remember that unique Edinburgh Tour they experienced. An enduring experience for everyone.

I was just happy to be sitting in the right place, at the right time, talking to the right person! The Creative Founder of INVISIBLE CITIES.

Sometimes, the most magical word you ever say, is a simple YES, to a new opportunity!”