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

Travel the world… differently!

Written on August 25, 2017
Tour London

As you might have heard, our founder Zakia Moulaoui got the inspiration for Invisible (Edinburgh) after a visit to Greece, but did you know that there are many other alternative tours you can take in other countries?

Last month we visited our friends at UNSEEN Tours in London and took a wonderful trip around London Bridge with David. It was the perfect opportunity to meet some of the project's coordinators and ask questions about their journey.

The tours of London started from the ‘Sock Mob’ initiative and grew slowly from there. Today they have four guides who offer tours to different areas of the Capital, across Camden, London Bridge and Brick Lane!

Zakia said: “It is always great to meet with similar projects around the world. You see how they do things, and there is always some great tips and advice.

“It is also reassuring the know we all go through similar experiences. Everyone in London was very welcoming and genuinely interested in our work here in Scotland. We cannot wait for them to come and visit us now!"

For more information on Unseen tours, click here.

Speaking out for social inclusion

Written on August 14, 2017
Street Work

Last month we were invited to speak at a Streetwork Streetvoice meeting focused around social involvement. 

Our guide,Sonny, spoke alongside Grant from Hepatitis Scotland and Hazel from Street Soccer Scotland, about his involvement in Invisible (Edinburgh) and why it is important to have a voice and feel like you really belong.

We are keen to organise more public speaking for our guides and our founder, Zakia, as we feel they make are a fantastic engagement tool and offer larger audiences (such as businesses, schools and clubs) an opportunity to to discuss homelessness, social inclusion and the beauty of our city.

If you are interested in receiving a speaker from Invisible (Edinburgh) please contact our founder for more information!

Grassmarket

In the second of a series of new posts we’re highlighting another of the lovely landmarks, social enterprises and local businesses we pass by during our tours.

This week we’re featuring the superb Grassmarket Community Project!

As the name suggests, the organisation is based in the iconic 'Grassmarket' neighbourhood of central Edinburgh. We share an awful lot in common with this social enterprise as they also offer support and opportunity to those who have been experiencing homelessness.

The Grassmarket Community Project takes an innovative approach to creating community and providing sanctuary and support to participants, many of whom are amongst the most vulnerable of our citizens. 

Through mentoring, training and education offered in a nurturing environment, the project helps to develop the skills which enable participants to reach their full potential and move away from unhealthy and unsociable cycles.

We work closely with the Grassmarket team and really enjoy everything they organise. Last year our guide Biffy took part in one of their excellent discussion panels on the issue of women's education, whilst our founder Zakia spoke at their excellent World Homelessness Day event .

The project runs a superb café which we always visit as part of our guided routes. They offer amazing food and hot beverages and a 20% discount to everyone popping in during one of our tours!

For more information, please visit their website!

A letter from America

Written on June 19, 2017
Untitled Design 5

Invisible (Edinburgh) regularly welcomes students from Wisconsin, USA as our tour is a regular feature on their regional school programme!

Counselling students regularly travel to Scotland for a study trimester and as part of their course, they always take a tour with us.

Today, one of their students has sent us a lovely review, so we thought we would share it with you all: 

"Coming into the trip, I knew a little about the views of society in Scotland. I had heard that they are much more 'democratic' and are very caring for those in need. I think it is unfair and completely frustrating that in the American society we have to immediately classify caring for others as being a political party, or associate caring about others as expensive.  

In America many homeless people are victim blamed, or just ignored as a real issue in general. I liked the UK perspective how treating the person as a whole and providing them with resources...

Sonny was great at showing this through the locations he brought us. He showed us the typical historical tour sites. He also offered insight to the resources the locals had. He did share locations that people who become homeless often stay near or in.  

I thought as a whole, the social enterprise systems where fantastic for society and taking on a cause to help society benefit, rather than a business to make profit for specific set of people and but the vulnerable people at a greater risk.

Sonny helped show that stigmas and stereotypes can be reduced through knowledge and understanding of those around you; that is just what the tour helped me see.

It was incredibly informative by not only showing how or where people in need may live, but by also sharing that people in Scotland are able to get the financial support they need to better themselves and start making changes. 

In America, this process is similar... but much slower and with little support for realistic humane living conditions. By sticking up for others rights and well-being, we are able to create a better society around us. In addition to not being faced with the upset or guilt when seeing people who became homeless in the United States.

Overall, it was an incredible and eye-opening experience to see first-hand experience with how Scotland deals with those who are a more targeted group of society in America. I would recommend others to do a similar tour if they had the chance.  

The knowledge learned from Sonny about Social Enterprises, makes me realize how simply sustainable a business helping others can be, and how it in-turn positively effects society."

To read other reviews or to leave one yourself if you have been on one of our tours, visit our Trip Advisor page!

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This week we caught up with Angie, who is currently training to be an Invisible (Edinburgh) guide. 

Our Founder Zakia asked Angie a few quick questions over a cup of tea at Invisible (Edinburgh) head-quarters: 

Hey Angie, would you like to introduce yourself?

"Good day Mate! How you going? 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."

Why did you decide to get involved with Invisible (Edinburgh)?

"I'm a trained teacher and being a tour guide, giving people information from a different angle is not that different." 

"I don't know what will come out of it but I want to try. I liked the training, you cant expect people to take others on a tour without giving them tools to do it well."

What do you expect from becoming a tour guide soon?


"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!"

Stay tuned for news of Angie's first tour, we'll be backing a big announcement very soon. Can you guess what it will be about?

Makesensebanner

We are delighted to be welcoming a group of French students from Universite Paris Dauphine for a special Social Enterprise ‘Hold-Up’ event held here in Edinburgh.

Led by the MakeSense organisation, Hold-Up events form a creative workshop where students and change-makers work together to create solutions for the many challenges social enterprises such as Invisible (Edinburgh) encounter.

Since 2011 MakeSense has helped more than 1,000 social entrepreneurs in cities across the world to accelerate their impact by helping to find resolutions to a wide range of issues including participation, promotion and funding.

We’re very excited to be meeting with the group and look forward to developing some fantastic strategies to drive Invisible (Edinburgh) toward the future. As part of their visit, the group will be treated to a free guided tour of the city!

The ‘Hold-Up’ event will take place from 2pm to 5pm on Thursday 1st June at the Serenity Cafe in central Edinburgh.

To find out more, please contact zakia@invisible-cities.org.

Edin Tour Event

We're excited to announce that Invisible (Edinburgh) will be exhibiting at the forthcoming Edinburgh Tourism Showcase Event.

The event takes place from 10am to 2.30pm on Wednesday May 17th, at the Assembly Rooms at 54 George Street, Edinburgh.

The event is a great opportunity to promote the work that Invisible (Edinburgh) does and to engage with other tourist organisations such as hoteliers, taxi drivers and conference organisers. Our team of Edinburgh Tour Guides will be attending along with our Founder, Zakia Moulaoui. 

Zakia said: "It is important we promote our tours to the rest of the tourism industry in Edinburgh and Scotland so we no longer stand out just as a social enterprise, but as a tourism business full stop.

“We are really excited about the event as it is the first of its kind we are taking part in. It will be great to meet other organisations and show them what we do.”

We’ll be live Tweeting from the event from the Invisible (Edinburgh) Twitter account, remember to follow us and use the hashtag #EdTourismShowcase.

To buy tickets for the event, please follow this link.

Beyondtalkie

Don’t miss the chance to join a very special event next Friday!

Zakia Moulaoui, Founder of Invisible (Edinburgh) will be speaking at a forthcoming event to be held by our friends at CreativeMornings.

Zakia will be talking as part of an international series of events examining ‘the beyond’, which focuses on the human resilience to push our own boundaries, explore the possibilities of the world and to survive.  

The event takes place on Friday 28th April from 8:30am - 10:00am and will be hosted at The Fruitmarket Gallery near Waverley Train Station.

Zakia said: “I am truly honoured to be speaking at CreativeMornings Edinburgh next week.

“I look forward to discussing homelessness and the work Invisible (Edinburgh) do, plus I’ll be bringing along some special guests!”

Following the talk CreativeMornings attendees can join an Invisible (Edinburgh) tour around the city at the reduced price of just £6 per person.

Spaces are limited so please book your place now to avoid disappointment!

P.S: Eventbrite password is 'CreativeMornings'

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Zakia Moulaoui, Founder of Invisible (Edinburgh), was a guest speaker at a recent TedX event held in the city.

Zakia delivered a talk on the subject of 'Doing Good Better' at the event, held on Sunday 9th April at Edinburgh Napier University.

In her talk Zakia discussed how we can all do good better - and how our actions as individuals, charities and social enterprises can actually make a big impact on the lives of others. 

Originating from the French city of St Etienne, Zakia has lived in Scotland for nearly a decade during which time she has worked almost exclusively with domestic and international homeless charities. 

In 2016 she founded Invisible (Edinburgh), with the organisation recently celebrating it's first birthday by welcoming a new intake of trainee tour guides to the programme.

To find out more about Zakia and Invisible (Edinburgh), click here.

Invisible Edinburgh Tours

In the first of a series of new posts we’ll be highlighting some of the lovely landmarks, social enterprises and local businesses we pass by during our tours.

This week we’re featuring the wonderful Serenity Café!

Based close to The Scottish Parliament and Dynamic Earth, the Serenity Café is an amazing social enterprise run by people in recovery for people in recovery, and is the only organisation of it’s kind in Scotland.

They serve a fantastic range of food and refreshments including delicious cakes and coffees, but also run daily support activities for people in recovery; including yoga classes, craft sessions and AA meetings.

This lively community café is usually the last stop on the tour, so you can look forward to enjoying a cup of tea or coffee after a nice entertaining jaunt around the city. Even better, as a member of an Invisible (Edinburgh) tour you’ll enjoy a 20% discount on your bill!

The Serenity Café is run with the support of another local charity called ‘Comas’ (Gaelic for ‘ability') who also run the Story Café, based in the Scottish Storytelling Center on the Royal Mile.

Click here to book your place on one of our Edinburgh tours!

Invisible (Edinburgh) goes back to school!

Written on March 28, 2017
Ie Majorca

We’re excited to announce that the Invisible (Edinburgh) programme has branched out into talks and tours for schools.

Following an increased demand for tours and presentations by schools and pupils, Invisible (Edinburgh) will be delivering talks, tours and classes to educational facilities across Scotland.

Our tour guide Sonny recently visited the children at East Craigs Primary School in Edinburgh to talk about his experience of homelessness and his special guided tour route. He answered lots of questions by very interested 10 and 11 year old students and has even been invited back to attend a school assembly!

We would absolutely love more school classes to join us on our Edinburgh tours and so for every class that makes a booking, we have decided to reduce the price of a ticket to just £6 per person.

Remember that our tours can be translated into French and Spanish by one of our volunteers - we recently had the pleasure of welcoming a group of students from Majorca to one of our tours and they all really loved it!

If you are interested in having Invisible (Edinburgh) come to talk at your school or to come along on one of our tours please contact Zakia Moulaoui at zakia@invisible-cities.org or on 07500773709.

Anniversary celebrations ahead!

Written on March 14, 2017
Inedbd

As Invisible (Edinburgh) approaches an important milestone, we’re ready to celebrate!

We can barely believe it's been a whole year since Invisible (Edinburgh) was born, but on April 1st we will be celebrating our first birthday!  

It’s been an incredible first year where so much has been achieved by the organisation and our superb guides, so we’re delighted to be heading into year two as strong as ever.  

Of course, we couldn't have been done any of this without the encouragement and support of our partners, friends and families and as a great big thank you, we’d like to invite you to celebrate with us!  

We have planned a special birthday tour with Biffy and Sonny on Saturday 1st April, starting at 11am at the Grassmarket and finishing at Social Bite on Rose Street for a bit of cake and partying (tea and coffee also provided!). To book your free ticket, please click here.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Iwd2017

Today is International Women’s Day and here at Invisible (Edinburgh) we are doing something a little bit special to celebrate.

To mark the occasion our very own Biffy will be leading a tour that will showcase the many amazing stories of powerful women hailing from Edinburgh, including JK Rowling, Maggie Dickson and Biffy herself.

The hour long tour will take place on Saturday 11th March from 2-3pm and will pass through various places of interest in the city that have been marked by illustrious women and played an important part in Biffy’s life, too.

It’s an important part of the Invisible Edinburgh mission to show support and solidarity to other local community groups, so we’ve decided that the proceeds from Biffy's tour will be used to support a mother and toddler group organised by the Muslim Women's Association of Edinburgh.

The association are in desperate need of items to help to group to continue their important work, and in the spirit of the day we are delighted to help.

Zakia Mouloui, Founder of Invisible (Edinburgh) said; “It was important for Biffy and I to show solidarity towards other women, especially on this day. By buying a few simple items for the toddlers group, we can show that support to other women and their daughters.

“We want to highlight how strong and powerful women are, and the tour will do just that!”

To book your place on the tour, please follow this link!

The story behind the stickers!

Written on February 28, 2017
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We recently thought up an inventive way to help our tour guides in Edinburgh.

The city is a busy and bustling place with so much going on, so our more popular routes are often very crowded as our guides lead their tours.

In fact, sometimes the streets have been so mobbed with tourists that our guides have been confused as to who was on the tour and who was a random person walking along the street!

So to combat this we needed to think of an easy and effective trick to help our guides spot who is part of the group they are guiding, and the answer was… stickers!

Now, as anyone who has taken a tour with Invisible (Edinburgh) lately will have noticed, everyone gets a little sticker with a picture of their guide on it before each tour begins.

The lovely sticker designs have been superbly illustrated by talented local artist Nicola Boon who does all the artwork Invisible Edinburgh, and we couldn’t be more thankful for her wonderful work.

To find out more about Nicola’s illustrations, please click here.

New guides, new training!

Written on February 22, 2017
Ie Map

We’re delighted to welcome a new intake of trainee guides who have joined Invisible (Edinburgh) this week!

Four new recruits; Angie, Graham, Lee and Michael have begun their training with the aim of joining our existing team of tour guides in sharing their unique story of Edinburgh with visitors to the city.

Our trainee guides have all connected with Invisible (Edinburgh) through our strong links with social organisations in the city, with successful referrals from Social Bite, Raised Voices, CRISIS and the Grassmarket Community Project.

New recruits will benefit from an exciting development in our training network as Real Talk, a new Edinburgh based social enterprise, join our list of trainers.

Real Talk is a growing initiative that encourages and supports individuals in finding their voice and sharing their narratives through the power of storytelling, all within a safe, warm and engaging environment.

This new collaboration will see Real Talk provide storytelling workshops to our trainees, helping them to plan and structure their guided tours.

We’d also like to thank to our existing training partners who will continue to support us over the coming year. Though CRISIS we are able to provide modules on topics such as self confidence and public speaking whilst all of our guides gain First Aid qualifications with the help of our friends at Aiding Your Way.

These are exciting times at Invisible (Edinburgh) with new faces bringing enthusiasm and new ideas to the organisation. With hushed talk of forthcoming tours based around Leith and the Edinburgh Festival, there will be plenty more to report soon!

Iegreece

In many European cities, tourists can discover hidden streets and stories thanks to guides who have experienced homelessness.

In Berlin, Paris or London, there are tours similar to those of Invisible (Edinburgh) but the true inspiration behind our social enterprise is in Athens!

During one of her travels to the Greek capital, our founder Zakia Moulaoui met the team behind SHEDIA, Greece's only street paper. Distributed in the streets of Athens and Thessaloniki since February 2013, it is published every last Wednesday of the month. But as well as selling their magazines, vendors can also take you on a tour of their city, telling you stories of their lives and experiences of it.

It is after going on one of these tours that Zakia decided to start the project back in Scotland, and after contacting the UK based street paper The Big Issue realised the best way to do so was to create a new social enterprise!

Zakia said: "The tours in Athens opened my eyes onto the reality of the country. I wanted to recreate the experience I had had in Greece back in Scotland. It was about having a real conversation and interaction with my guide and I thought that was very powerful. But in Edinburgh, the Big Issue has limited resources so I decided Why not do it myself?

"That's where it all started!"

With the help of many partners, The Big Issue but also CRISIS and of course Shedia, Invisible (Edinburgh) was created.

"The team in Greece has been amazing. Through their advice, friendship and support, we have been able to create something very positive. 

"They have been real role models for us. Our first media interview was actually in SHEDIA with our guide Biffy and for this I will always be thankful" she continues.

Click these links for more information about similar tours in Paris and London.
 

Crisisie

We are delighted to announce that Invisible (Edinburgh) has become an official partner of Crisis.

As part of this exciting partnership we have already begun to deliver high quality training and support to our team of guides, with the first round of workshops centered around building self-confidence, speaking in public and resolving conflict. 

Our team have also joined some of the Crisis Skylight classes held in Edinburgh and one of our guides, Stewart, has joined their weekly cycling group!

Founded in 1967, Crisis offers practical and creative workshops in a supportive and inspiring environment, together with formal learning opportunities that lead to qualifications and finding work for homeless people. 

Zakia Moulaoui, Founder of Invisible (Edinburgh) said: "We contacted CRISIS right at the beginning of our journey, and they were on board straight away. 

"They have offered so much support through their tutors and advice. I really hope we can continue to develop a strong relationship and keep working together to improve the lives of our guides."

To find out more about Crisis, follow this link to visit their website.

Safety first with Invisible (Edinburgh)

Written on August 16, 2016
Firstaid

The good news is that all of our Edinburgh tour guides are now fully First Aid qualified!

Our good friends at Aiding Your Way delivered a fantastic day of First Aid training where everyone learnt about accidents and how to cope in case of an emergency.

Aiding Your Way instructors are qualified to teach a range of First Aid courses with particular focus on provides training to allow the homeless to gain workplace skills and accredited qualifications to aid re-entering the workplace

The training was held with the kind hospitality of Braidwood Community Centre, in partnership with Homeless charity CRISIS.

Iegroup2

We’re delighted to announce that Invisible (Edinburgh) had been nominated for the 2017 Luxury Travel Awards. 

The Luxury Travel Awards is a highly renowned awards programme created to celebrate excellence across all sectors of the affluent travel and tourism industry. 

Invisible (Edinburgh) has been nominated in the holiday and tour options category, which recognises a wide range of tour operators from large multinational operations to small, independent guides such as ourselves. 

Zakia Moulaoui, Founder of Invisible Edinburgh said: “We are a new, ambitious and growing organisation, so to be nominated in these awards is a great honour”.

To find out more about the Luxury Travel Awards, click here.

Un Ltd For Social Enterpreneurs

We are delighted to announce that we have received funding from Unltd to develop and market our tours better!

Unltd is the leading provider of support to social entrepreneurs in the UK, offering the largest network of it's kind in the world. UnLtd resources hundreds of individuals each year through its core awards programme.

Unltd CEO Mark Norbury came to Edinburgh and attended one of Biffy's tours, joining her on a tour through the streets of HER Edinburgh and discovering the stories of the city's powerful women from past and present.

Zakia Moulaoui, Invisible (Edinburgh) founder, said " It is great for our guides to know we receive support and that there are people out there who believe in them and what they do!".

Unltd's grant will be used to cover our basic strategic start-up costs and help us to promote the work of the organisation.

Portytedx

Last month our Founder Zakia Moulaoui spoke as a guest speaker at TedXPortobello

At the event, held at the Tribe Porty Youth Theatre in Edinburgh, Zakia called for new perspectives and described her work in changing the lives of those affected by homelessness. She also encouraged the audience to think of the invisible people in our cities and to see our cities and their people in a different light.

Zakia is from St Etienne in France and has been living in Scotland for eight years in which time she has worked with local and international charities, mostly organisations working with homeless people. 

She recently founded our very own Invisible (Edinburgh), a Scottish social enterprise that trains local people who have experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides of their cities. We offer local and social tours, connecting tourists and locals with places that make the city what it is!

Our aim is to create change around the stigma surrounding homelessness worldwide and bring people together, no matter their backgrounds, stories or problems. 

To watch Zakia's full talk from TedXPortobello, please follow this link!

Welcome to a new beginning!

Written on July 08, 2016
Ienews

Invisible (Edinburgh) tours have started and you can book your ticket now!

Invisible (Edinburgh) was officially launched on March 31st at the Melting Pot (they have been helping us tremendously along the way) and we are now running regular tours of the city for you lucky people to enjoy!

Three guides are already primed to take you on a tour of THEIR Edinburgh, showing you the famous landmarks of this historic city, but also to tell you about their lives.

As part of our launch Invisible (Edinburgh) was featured in the Daily Record, The Times and STV too!

To book a tour with us today, please follow this link!

Supported by

  • Unltd
  • Edinburgh Aiport

As seen on

  • BBC
  • Les InRocks
  • Daily Record