impact REPORT 2021
To Start With... A word by our founder, Zakia Moulaoui Guery Welcome to our impact report for 2021! As I write this, we are FINALLY seeing the return of visitors and business in general (big sigh of relief) after what felt like the longest time ever. We would not have survived 2020-2021 without support from our local and national governments: either through grants or the job retention scheme. But most importantly we would not have survived without the dedication and hard work of the Invisible Cities team, staff, guides and volunteers. Everyone adapted to online learning - at times figuring how to use whatsapp in public gardens, at a safe distance and shouting at one another! And focused on staying physically and mentally engaged with the wider Invisible Cities family, until we could safely return to tours. We also pivoted (our favourite pandemic word) to online tours and content and were delighted to see people enjoy all the activities we created for children. Seeing this appreciation for it has sparked our motivation to really develop our educational activities so watch this space for a brand new section on our website and a brand new line of activities delivered by our guides. 2021 was also the year we were voted "Best Community Tour in the World" by Lonely Planet for their Best in Travel list. This is a true recognition of the hard work and passion our guides put into their tours and we cannot wait to train more people and continue on offering more unique experiences to people from all around the world- now that they are travelling again! Thank you again to everyone who has supported us not only through the pandemic but since we started back in 2016, everyone who attended tours or events and to the whole team who no matter what happens gives their best to everything they do!
Where you can find us
By the end of 2023 we will also be in:
2021 in Numbers* *we feel these numbers are pretty good consindering we had several periods of lock downs in all our cities
Guides across the UK
Guests on tours
people watched our tours online
hours of training delivered
We worked with
To date we trained over 100 people affected by homelessness - we started in 2016!
Our Impact Goes Two Ways
For Our Guides
Change of Perception
For Our Customers
Our Training We delivered a total of 243 hours online and in person! Our training programme is open to everyone who has experienced homelessness in our cities. Sometimes this will include people who cannot become guides. That's ok with us. While we only recruit guides from the groups of people we have trained, our training is designed to provide positive skills and opportunities for those who may be looking for other work, to go back to education or simply get back on track with their lives.
what we focus on
public speaking & Storytelling
access to our heritage, culture and venues
After taking part in our training, our participants* reported:
felt they achieved the goals they had set themselves
said their selfconfidence had improved
80% felt they were better public speakers
100% had greater knowledge and love for our cities!
"The Invisible Cities Training Gave me the confidence to know that I am a good person and deserve Tez, Glasgow positive things in my life" *Out of all people surveyed, we received a total of 28 answers
Being a guide brings me a routine, an income and
case study rgh u b n i d E y Sonn
makes me meet people from around the world. I love it!
This is Sonny We
provide free food and amployment to people
Research for brand new tour of Edinburgh
Black History Set up of social media
channels for Unheard
worked consistenly with us since 2016
Voices, his public speaking
to improve his skills, his living situation
and work on his goals.
Crimes & Punishment in Edinburgh Sonny's tour takes you on a journey of
Access to healthy food via deliveries
crimes, executions and other spooky stories in the city. But Sonny is also passionate
other social enterprises and charities that
Media and PR experience in radio, TV and print
supported him when he was on the streets. His tour is highly entertaining and a favourite among our younger guests
Support with applications and administration
provoking. Through his various stops, Sonny demonstrates how the support he
changed his life.
Remained in stable
Reuniting with family
employment and moving on We recruit and employ guides so they can deliver their tours to visitors and residents alike. Our goal is to provide stability with regular work and financial resilience. We do this by providing a fair income and offering one to one support sessions on budgeting and saving. We also provide internal employment opportunities for those who cannot become guides. These include: Event Stewards Project Coordinator Mentor and Peer Support Advocacy work
We are a living wage employer
empowering our team Our team is now made of 5 members (FT & PT) and dozens of volunteers. We aim to empower them to develop their own projects or go into careers they are passionate about! The pandemic has not stopped us from recruiting and we are very proud of our Sales & Business Development Manager in Manchester, Lauren, who won the Community Hero Award at the Manchester Young Talent Awards 2021!
where are they now? We encourage trainees and guides to access other positive opportunities whether in education or employment. We have had guides gain full-time employment, start their own businesses, re-train or re-unite with family.
Angie, Edinburgh After delivering her tour "Edinburgh, City Festivals" for 2 years, Angie decided retrain and use her own experience overcoming addiction and became Recovery Coach.
Laura, Manchester of to of a
Laura was Invisible (Manchester)'s second tour guide and has used her time with us to develop entrepreneurial skills and has decided to start her own local business!
changing perceptions of our cities Through our tours, we break down the stigma that exists around homelessness and showcase that everyone has a story to tell. We also promote our cities in a more authentic and local voice. We had some work visitors from Portugal on the tour and they also found it brilliant. I had the opportunity to chat to our guide on the tour and it was great to hear his story and see how far he's come. The tour was informative and fun and gave a new insight into the city. Rolf, December 2021
showing what our cities are really like At Invisible Cities, we want to go beyond what you'd see on a postcard and showcase our cities for everything they are. This includes their diverse pasts and social challenges.
In 2021, we published resources (available on our website): Black History in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester Women's representation in our cities Rough Sleeping in our cities
We also engaged with 11 schools, sharing this content and delivering workshops!
Writing on the Wall- Manchester Writing on the Wall is a monthly publication created by the team at Invisible (Manchester) that includes uplifting, positive artwork and poetry. It also includes practical information about where people currently experiencing homelessness can seek support. We ask our community partners if the people they work with would like to submit anonymous contributions. These are then collected, edited and published by our guides. Writing on the Wall provides a great sense of achievement for people to see their work published. Each month we distribute the newest issue to charities, social enterprises, public libraries and cafés so that it is as accessible as possible.
We published our first edition in January 2021
To date we have distrbuted 4000 copies across Manchester We have employed Ric, one of our trainees to coordinate distribution!
In 2021, we created a website dedicated to Writing on the Wall where people can submit content and find previous copies.
Our plans for the future While we are now returning to in-person experiences, we've found that virtual tours are there to stay. They provide accessibility to those who cannot travel and have opened our work to a wider audience. Accessing the technology and being comfortable with it is a big challenge for some of our team members, but we will continue to offer online tours and content where we can. We are committed to developing our own skills when it comes to the digital world. The pandemic also highlighted an area of work where we can do more to offer authentic and exciting projects: in education! From working with schools directly to offering curriculum materials to parents, we are working to expand what we started in 2021. We are so excited about our expansion into new UK cities with three already confirmed for 2022: Cardiff, Liverpool and Norwich. It is our plan to expand internationally too and are in talks with some very exciting destinations. The global pandemic has accelerated the narrative of sustainable travel, with more people exploring their local areas than ever before. We are currently working on Invisible Neighbourhoods, a project that will connect our guides with their local communities as they create tour content in their local areas. Sustainable travel has also made people more conscious when travelling abroad, with people wanting to make an impact in their destination country. This positive shift supports our goal to reach more people, grow our support network and raise awareness about our tours and mission. All of this makes us hopeful for the future and tell us that the years to come are going to be very busy!
meet one of our new guides for 2022: Gayle!