Today is World Homelessness Day, an international day to raise awareness and encourage local communities to help those who are experiencing homelessness, and we are delighted to announce a new partnership with Invisible Cities that will help achieve this goal not just today, but long into the future.
Invisible Cities is a social enterprise that trains people affected by homelessness to become walking tour guides of their own city. These tours provide a unique insight into the city in focus, with themes chosen by the guides themselves, interweaving the history of the city with their own experiences and interests.
The Wallich are Wales’ leading homelessness charity, providing accommodation and support to around 9,000 people each year, engaging successfully with some of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in Wales to enable them to live happier, safer and more independent lives.
A vital area of The Wallich’s work lies in the development of long-term, sustainable solutions out of homelessness. This begins with building confidence and skills through engaging clients in the design, delivery, evaluation and improvement of the services they receive. This initial participation leads onto more formal progression activities aimed at helping people achieve a sustainable level of independence through education, training and employment.
Invisible Cities began in 2016 and has to date trained 52 people as guides, across Edinburgh, Glasgow, York and Manchester. Guides can either be paid or work on a voluntary basis, depending on which options best suits their current circumstances. If done voluntarily, then the income from tours can be re-invested into the organisation and used to support tour guides training in skills-based areas such as budgeting and money management. Invisible Cities has recently won both the Regional Award at the Barclays Entrepreneur Awards and Inspiring Campaign Award at the Manchester Spirit Awards 2019.
Invisible Cities’ Founder Zakia says:
“We are over the moon to start working with The Wallich in Wales. They are all about creating opportunities for people so having Invisible Cities tours as part of what they offer fits really well.
“Cardiff is also a great location for our tours, with thousands of tourists, events and a rich history to share. Starting Invisible Cities three years ago, I could have never imagined reaching cities all across the UK, but here we are, launching something special in a 5th location. What an incredible journey to date!”
Guides will receive high-quality training – usually through three full days of workshop training, followed by anywhere from four months to a year developing their own tour and practicing it. This element of the project will be delivered by creative and community partners including National Museum Cardiff, drawing on their skills and expertise in recording, interpreting and engaging a diversity of different audiences in history and heritage.
Amy Lee Pierce, Head of Communications & Public Affairs at The Wallich says:
“This has to be one of our most exciting partnerships to date and we cannot wait to get started. The goal of Invisible Cities, to empower people to become independent and to break down stereotypes to show that everyone has potential, chimes so strongly with our organisation.
“Everybody deserves to belong somewhere and this project will enable people to learn new skills and be celebrated and rewarded for them, whilst showcasing the amazing city of Cardiff in a unique and authentic light.”