A NEW initiative is being launched in York to help homeless people become tour guides.

The project, entitled Invisible York has been established by a local community interest group called Good Organisation and will train homeless people to become walking guides around the City of York.

Members from different charities gathered at the Priory Street Centre yesterday to discuss how the scheme would work.

The concept is based on a similar award-winning project that has been operating in Edinburgh since 2016, which has trained 15 homeless people to become tour guides.

Director of Good Organisation Kenny Lieske, said: “The whole project will help individuals who find themselves homeless to get back into work and earn an income.

“Homeless people interested in joining will be assigned a mentor, and undertake a six week course that will develop their customer service skills, confidence, presentation skills. They will also have have a few practice sessions before performing their first tour."

The scheme is set to begin on December 5, with the first tours being scheduled for March 2019.

“The tours will be based on what homeless individuals want to talk about. In Edinburgh, there are selection of tours including trainspotting, powerful women and crime and punishment.

“The money earned from paying tourists will be put into development pots.

“It will go towards paying for accommodation, food and clothing and driving lessons, all skills that will help homeless individuals to get back on their feet and hopefully into full time employment .”

Invisible York is working alongside the Edinburgh based project, as well as other city guides such as Glasgow and Manchester.

Natasha Almond from Good Organisation said: “Although our project is still in the early stages, it has already attracted interest and support from local homelessness groups including City of York Council, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Social Vision and a number of other organisations working with homeless people.

“We will be offering a range of skill development opportunities to those taking part, and while these are primarily intended to facilitate the delivery of the planned tours, we hope that the project will also include elements of self-advocacy for those directly impacted by homelessness.”

In a statement City of York Council said: "We are always interested in ways in which we can reduce homelessness and support those experiencing it."

Natasha Almond said: “So far we have had four homeless people apply.

This week we will be going into different shelters such as Kitchen for Everyone, Call for Action and Care Sense to hopefully get more people involved. We hope that members from different charities who have joined us today can help get this initiative off the ground and running.”

Homeless individuals who are interested in joining the scheme can apply at www.organisation.co.uk or visit a homeless shelter in York by November 28.