Unseen Tours and its guides are back with a bang this spring
- 11 April 2021
London walking tours and virtual quizzes, led by individuals who have experienced homelessness
Unseen Tours, a social enterprise which coaches individuals who have experienced homelessness or vulnerable housing to lead London walking tours, has innovated its way through the last 12 months and is ready to return with a bang. The organisation will spring back with five walking tours, starting in April, plus another series of its popular virtual “Not-in-a-Pub-Quiz”, which is available to book now.
The pandemic has put enormous pressure on the organisation and its guides, who typically show over 6,500 people per year around London’s streets. However, after a clever pivot to online quizzes, Unseen Tours has survived and is now ready to safely welcome visitors back. From 12th April 2021, educational groups, couples and families will be able to enjoy an outdoor walking tour through five different areas of London – Brick Lane, Soho, Covent Garden, Shoreditch and London Bridge. The tours cover local history, characters and culture, plus personal stories of homelessness in the capital, co-constructed by a guide who has experienced homelessness in their lifetime. All tours start from £15pp with discounts available for certain groups. Extra health and safety precautions have been introduced to keep guides, guests and public safe – please see below for more information.
In 2020, Unseen Tours pivoted its business model by moving online to host London-themed Zoom “Not-in-a-Pub-Quiz” events for corporate socials and family get-togethers. These quizzes, which have enjoyed huge recent success thus far, are available to book throughout 2021.
The virtual quiz content, which is specially curated by the guides, mirrors that of the walking tours. Crucially, these quizzes have provided financial support to the guides, and have allowed them to reclaim some power during a time of crisis. 60% of the profit goes directly to the tour guides who helped curate the quiz; the rest is reinvested for training and product development.
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For more information and to book a tour or a quiz, visit: www.unseentours.org.uk
About Unseen Tours
Unseen Tours is a London-based social enterprise founded in 2010. It offers homeless and vulnerably housed Londoners the opportunity to train as tour guides in the city. This provides a new livelihood, but also allows these marginalised Londoners to share their knowledge and be seen – when so often the homeless are an invisible part of the city.
Since the summer of 2010, Unseen Tours has worked with more than 20 guides and offered tours in eight different areas of the city. It typically runs more than 450 tours per year, educating approximately 6500+ tourists on the quirks, history and culture of London.
Every aspect of the tours has been co-constructed with the guides themselves, making the Unseen Tours experience a genuine joint venture from the ground up. At the same time, the tours offer a unique and eye-opening experience of London, to both tourists and long-time London residents. Its aim is to change public perceptions around homelessness in all its complicated aspects, and value the often untapped potential of people who have experienced it.
Unseen Tours operates as a social enterprise. The majority (60%) of ticket revenue is paid directly to the guides, with all remaining revenue used for essential operational costs, including a phone and transportation for the guide. Any profit we make is directly reinvested back into the enterprise to engage more guides and widen our reach.
Keeping everyone safe on the tour
Unseen Tours is committed to keeping all of its guides and guests safe on a walking tour and has implemented a number of measures to ensure this. Measures include:
- The number of people per tour group has been reduced to six per group.
- All guides will be wearing a plastic visor during the tour.
- All guides will use voice amplifiers to ensure that guests can hear every word, whilst maintaining a safe distance.
- Face masks will be strongly encouraged for all guests.
- All guides will carry hand sanitiser and will encourage guests to bring their own too.
- Guests will be encouraged to maintain a distance of at least one metre from people outside their household whilst walking and standing during the tour. The guides will stop at places where it’s easy to keep a distance.