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London Tourism Through New Eyes

Walking tours and experiences curated and led by people affected by homelessness

Redefining Tourism: Unseen Tours is Transforming Narratives and Challenging Perceptions on Homelessness

In the heart of London, where history and modernity intertwine, there exists a delicate balance between exploiting poverty and fostering positive change. Unseen Tours, a volunteer network that engages with men and women living on the streets of London, navigates this balance with grace and purpose.

Harnessing the power of tourism, they're on a mission to reshape the narrative surrounding homelessness.

Unseen Tours is more than just a sightseeing venture. Through their ethical tourism initiative, they've carved out a space for those who've faced homelessness, offering them a chance at a sustainable livelihood. Their tours span the vibrant streets of Soho, London Bridge, Brick Lane, and Covent Garden. But what sets them apart is their guides – individuals who've personally experienced homelessness and now share the city's tales through their unique lens.

Jayni Gudka, the dynamic CEO of Unseen Tours, has been the driving force behind this transformative journey. The inception of Unseen Tours can be traced back to a compassionate group known as The Sockmob. Venturing out on London streets, they offered not just tangible items like coffee, tea, and socks, but also a listening ear to those sleeping rough. Through these heartfelt interactions, they discovered that many of these individuals had a profound understanding of their localities - they possessed tales and histories often overlooked, offering a novel way to experience the city. This revelation over a decade ago inspired what Unseen Tours is today.

Central to Unseen Tours' mission is their 'Theory of Change'. They believe that the tourism sector stands to benefit immensely from integrating marginalised voices.

Their aim? To open doors in the tourism industry for those who've traditionally been sidelined and marginalised. London, in all its diversity, deserves to be showcased in its entirety and who better to do it than those who've lived its many facets?

Jayni emphasizes that Unseen Tours isn't about poverty tourism. They're not here to showcase homelessness as a spectacle. Instead, they provide an enriching tour experience that challenges preconceptions and combats indifference. It's about reshaping narratives and initiating dialogues that transcend the tour itself.

At its core, Unseen Tours believes in the fundamental right of every individual to have a home or at least a safe space to sleep. While some might opt for homelessness due to personal reasons, Unseen Tours respects individual choices whilst still offering fundamental aspects of human existence: respect, communication, compassion and care. Their mission revolves around providing alternatives to homelessness, not dictating life choices.

Jayni's personal philosophy resonates with the idea that genuine engagement starts with a conversation and culminates in a journey. Homelessness often renders individuals invisible in society's eyes. This power dynamic needs a shift, and that's precisely what Unseen Tours aims to achieve. By showcasing a different facet of London, they initiate dialogues that go beyond the confines of a guided tour.

Their recent endeavours include the launch of a King's Cross tour, which has been met with enthusiasm while through funding and support from the Mayor of London, they're expanding their offerings, curating a Whitechapel tour, and exploring potential in Hackney and other untouched London locales.

Supporting Unseen Tours: A Call to Action

If you’re living in London or visiting this amazing city, then consider embarking on a journey unlike any other with Unseen Tours - their walking tours offer a unique perspective of the city, narrated by those who've personally experienced a view unlike you’ll ever know.

But your support doesn't stop at taking a tour. Help amplify their mission by sharing this article with friends and family or recount your own transformative experience from their work on social media. Every story shared broadens the reach of their impactful narrative.

If you're moved by their cause, consider donating to Unseen Tours. Your effort is important toward a more inclusive and compassionate life for people needing a little support at the right moment.

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