World’s Most Street Wise Guides
In 2010, Unseen Tours evolved from the inspiring work of The Sock Mob, a volunteer network that through regular weekly walks, engages with men and women living on the streets of London using the ice-breaking power of socks and real conversation. In this way, the Sock Mob gives everyone from the curb up a face and a name and facilitates interaction between people from different walks of life who might never otherwise connect on any meaningful level.
Unseen Tours takes this model a significant step forward by providing paid work as tour guides to vulnerably housed individuals, showcasing their creativity and resourcefulness while taking you along on a great tour to parts of the city you might never otherwise see with people you might never otherwise know existed.
How we relate to one another
Unseen Tours is a not for profit social enterprise and we have co-constructed every aspect of the tours with the guides themselves, making the Unseen Tours experience a genuine joint venture from the ground up. This driving vision also means that 60% of ticket revenues is paid directly to the guides with all remaining revenue used for essential operational expenses including guide phone and transportation as well as essential operational costs. Any profit we make is directly reinvested back into the enterprise to engage more guides and widen the scope of our tours.
What we are not…
Let’s be clear: Unseen Tours are NOT part of the poverty tourism agenda – i.e. voyeuristically and superficially pointing out economically and ‘socially’ deprived areas and the people within them. Instead, the tours aim to show London’s historical and cultural quirks in an unusual and entertaining way and, where issues of homelessness are covered, to make a point about the state of the world we live in and highlight issues of social injustice. Crucially, our tours are not tours of the homeless but, rather, with them – an important distinction that reverses the power balance between our homeless guides and ‘mainstream’ society, as the guides are the voices of authority who lead us on the tours.
Some interesting facts
We’ve achieved a lot in the last 5 years…