A PROJECT which gives the homeless a chance to start a new life as tour guides has delivered a social impact worth over £180,000.

Invisible Cities - a social enterprise that trains people in York as well as Edinburgh, Manchester and Glasgow - recently worked with Big Issue Invest to develop a report about how its work had changed lives.

As well as wider training and advocacy work, Invisible Cities has supported 13 people directly to generate sustainable income with three going on to suitable further employment.

Big Issue Invest estimates Invisible Cities has generated a social value of £187,700 while accounting for attribution and using National TOMs values.

Last year walking tour guide Miles Goring, who had a 20 year career in banking before falling into rough sleeping, said this scheme had given him his life back.

Speaking in June, he said: "I needed to get my dignity back. This gave me that chance. It's having someone to believe in you when you really don't believe in yourself."

Data compiled to draft the report also found that Invisible Cities provided training for 23 tour guides and held an additional 16 schools and training sessions.

They also hosted 4,130 visitors on their tours and significantly raised awareness around homelessness in the UK, with 2,360 people confirming that they had directly learned about homelessness from the social enterprise. 

Zakia Moulaoui Guery, Founder & CEO of Invisible Cities, said: “Our work today is more important than ever: with an estimated 320,000 people homeless or at risk of homelessness, both the supportive employment and the help we can offer with regards to individual wellbeing are crucial for many of the UK’s most vulnerable people.

“The impact we can deliver is achieved both by employing our tour guides directly and through the wider training and advocacy work delivered by our team. We also create awareness-raising campaigns, training sessions to schools and major businesses and collaboration sessions between homeless people and service providers.”

Read similar articles: Homeless tour guides are launched in York

While Joshua Meek, head of impact at Big Issue Invest added: “Invisible Cities is a brilliant example of an enterprising organisation, keen to understand and grow the impact they are creating.

"It has been great to see one of our very own Big Issue vendors trained through Invisible Cities and working as a tour guide in Edinburgh.”