At Invisible Cities we don’t believe in labels or stereotypes. We want to show that everyone has great potential, a fact reflected in our tour guides.
Each of our talented tour guides have experience of homelessness or social disadvantage. They have seen their cities from many more angles than the average tour guide can offer, be it the famous landmarks or the social enterprises that make this great city what it is. Meet the team below:
Hi, my name is Sonny! Thank you for showing interest in my tour and my story. I am very proud to be part of the team at Invisible (Edinburgh) as this is a city I was homeless in a few years ago and so I know parts of Edinburgh you probably don’t.
My tour is based on Crimes and Punishment as I have experienced prison myself (though for minor crimes) and Edinburgh is full of stories of murders, gangsters and prisoners!
A few years ago, my life took a bad turn and I was homeless on the streets of Edinburgh. My girlfriend (Biffy-another tour guide at Invisible Edinburgh) and I were addicted to Heroin but we are now both clean and very much looking forward to what the future is bringing. Today I also work with Social Bite, a chain of sandwich shop with a difference. 1in 4 members of staff come from a homelessness background and we give out a lot of food and money back to charity.
I look forward to seeing you in my tour, I promise we will have fun and we will see a side of the capital that will amaze you! Love, Sonny
Paul, an Edinburgh local, will give you a tour of Leith, a buzzing port district located in the northern part of the city which is rich in local history. Immerse yourself in the vibrant cultural worlds of Leith and Shore, two of Edinburgh’s most famous neighborhoods while you listen to to Paul’s own story detailing his life growing up and living in Leith. Learn about the history of the “Trainspotting Generation,” the young people who were affected by the area’s pervasive heroin addiction issue through Paul’s passionate explanation of literature and films surrounding the topic.
Hi, I'm Angus, I'd like to take you on a tour through the centuries down the Royal Mile. Edinburgh started as a huddle of huts round a stockade, through mediaeval high rise living, extensive Victorian clearance, but also, luckily, several modern examples of preservation.
I've experienced homelessness in London and Edinburgh since health problems brought most of my previous career paths, including; gravedigging, kitchen portering, combat engineering, forestry and fencing, building new stuff and, best of all, knocking down old stuff to an unwelcome and creaky end. I was told about Invisible Cities by the staff at Big Issue a couple of years ago. Not a highbrow architectural tour, but a great opportunity for me to share my passion for history and mixed opinions about our Scottish town planners. My tour lasts an hour and is around 99% downhill. Okay, I'll admit I failed maths at school so that's a guess.
I am Angie and I am from Oz but I have lived in Edinburgh for 5 years. I am still here after all this time because I love the arts and Edinburgh is the festival city!
I came here to be close to my daughter but I stayed because I love it! I've continued my love for the arts right through my life from where I began as a drama teacher.
I want to enthuse people about everything Edinburgh has to offer. There are so many things to do here - hidden stuff! I want to make them aware of all the possibilities the city has to offer!
So when you come to My Edinburgh-Festival City Tour, we will be able to discuss all arts and festivals the city has to offer!
Danny is an adopted Mancunion who was on the streets for 4 and a half year. He started writing poetry round about five years ago after meeting Arthur and Martha who ignited Danny’s interested in poetry. It inspired him and rebuilt his confidence to help move off the streets. Now, Danny does a lot of volunteering. He says "People ask me what I get out of it? I say its not what i get out of it but what I can put back into it."
Hi, my name is Laura. After going through some hard times I have grown to respect the fact of life.
Going homeless three times since 17 years old I have gained the true insight of homelessness over the years, and how easy it is to go homeless even when times are good.
Once a mate said to me that I was a unicorn and a seahourse. Well isn't that true? I see myself has a rare breed of person.
With autism being a big part of my life and being transgender being part of that life you can now say that I am a rare person indeed.
With compassion and love to each person in a hard place and time I find myself in a spot to support and educate the people who need and want it.
With the background from many years and jobs I have done. I have found myself working towards becoming a public speaker and with many other projects to spread the message of hope, love, care and most of all a joyful life even when times are hard.
With hope to bring stories that can change the sight of others is a coming thing and the support of people like my self who are and were invisible who can now grow to be visible.
Hi, my name is Andy and I’m from Wigan! After experiencing homelessness, albeit brief, I got back on my feet and have had some great opportunities. I see this as a way to pass on my experiences of bad times and good times.
I was introduced to the Manchester nightlife in 1985. I immediately fell in love with Manchester from the beginning - being into rock music I have always felt at home in the relaxed atmosphere, no adversity just a welcoming and open culture.
I’d like to take you on a tour of some happy memories from my time visiting Manchester’s nightlife. During the COVID-19 lockdown, I researched the path well-trodden by my friends and I years ago, only to discover the fascinating history of each venue or pub. I was not aware of the historical significance of all my old drinking spots! My tour will elaborate on the eclectic history of Manchester and some personal memories of these landmarks.
I would like to add that although the tour mentions drinking, there is no drinking whilst on tour. I hope that this insight will draw attention to the links between alcoholism and homelessness. The stops on my tour will help spread awareness of the simultaneous link between alcoholism being a ‘cause of’ and ‘caused by’ homelessness
I am also a member of an organisation called Streetwise Opera - a performance group for people who have experienced homelessness. I have done some very interesting performances, both weird and wonderful, that I point out on the tour.
I am Nic. Invisible (Manchester)’s Music Man. I moved to Manchester when I was 6, and have been a true Mancunian since. I am a nice guy that likes music and taking long walks, so it all comes together - it makes sense for me to be a tour guide. I was surrounded by music from a young age as my parents always immersed me in oldies songs and I play a bit of music too. I was in my 20s during the 1990s - an amazing time to experience music. It was pretty cool so it’s not a surprise I am so big into music.
I got involved with Back On Track for a couple of years, including music classes and playing guitars. Then I heard about Invisible (Manchester) and the rest is history.
I think music is more important than people give it credit for. It’s always in the background and, for a lot of us, it is the soundtrack to our lives. Ever since an early age, I was super adventurous and willing to listen to all types of music, one aspect of my life in which I was fearless is my music listening habits - I would listen to everything.
I consider Manchester to be my home, there are great people here and I love the vibe of living in the North. I don’t mind the rain if the people are warmhearted. It is just a cool place to live. It has so much to give. And so do I. I feel I have the city in me and I look forward to sharing it with you.
Meet Gavin! He is an affable dad, who has struggled with mental ill health and homelessness in the past, but draws upon his personal experiences as a former play-worker and teaching assistant to present a unique view of the city. His York Family Friendly Fun Tour will entertain the whole family!
Say hello to Gemma who is a transgender woman, who found herself sleeping rough and living in hostels following the sudden unexpected death of her landlady. She is a passionate railway enthusiast and her tour explores how the railway has shaped and transformed the city.
Vicki is passionate about the history Guy Fawkes and first found out about this part of history in 2009, and her passion is one of the reasons that she moved to York.
She interweaves her own personal journey of being diagnosed with stage 4b cancer, treatment, and remission, with the story of his life.
Let us introduce you to Miles, the newest recruit of Invisible (York)!
Miles is a father of two who combines his own life as a former banker with his personal experience of homelessness and recovery journey from addiction to alcohol, to uncover layers of local history that highlight how York’s Health and Wealth has been continually shaped.