Homeless guides to show Invisible Edinburgh

Edinburgh is second only to London when it comes to UK city breaks, so finding a new take on Scotland’s capital city might seem improbable.

But inspired by Greek street paper Shedia, Invisible Edinburgh has found a way to reveal the hidden corners beyond the castle and Princes Street.

The unconventional project will reveal a different side to Auld Reekie by employing homeless and formerly homeless people as their tour guides.

Invisible Edinburgh guides Sonny, Biffy and George. Photo: Zoe Greenfield

The Edinburgh project is the brainchild of Zakia Moulaoui (pictured below, centre), who has also worked with the Homeless World Cup and Edinburgh’s social business café Social Bite.

Speaking at the launch celebration earlier this month, Zakia paid tribute to the organisations that have helped her get the project off the ground – and to the tour guides who have already signed up.

“It’s unbelievable that we’re here,” she said. “It’s been a team effort. I’d like to thank Crisis, The Big Issue and INSP for their work. And all my friends for their support.

“Most importantly, I’d like to recognise the work of our tour guides. I am really proud of you.”

Invisible Edinburgh is planned to be open to the public in mid-May with be four tours to chose from.

Each guide will offer a different theme – from ‘Crime and Punishment’ to ‘Community Sport’ and ‘Food in the City’ – but all the stories will be filtered through the tour guides’ experiences of Edinburgh whilst homeless.

Biffy is one of the first guides, alongside her partner Sonny. “I’m really excited. Me and my partner always joked we could be tour guides, because we’re always telling people directions,” she said.

Her tour will be titled ‘Powerful Women’ and she said that the training she’s been through has helped her realise that she, too, is a strong woman.

“I know I’m not stupid,” she added. “But I felt like I was wasting away just being in the house all the time. Now I doing something. It’s amazing.”

Biffy became homeless following the breakdown of a previous relationship, but since she and Sonny had their daughter Charlotte, they’ve both managed to turn their lives around.

“We have somewhere to stay. Life is quite good at the moment,” she said. “I hope I’m going to make lots of money with the tours!”

Find out more about Invisible Edinburgh in their introductory video below, and on their Facebook page.