Invisible (Manchester)

by Alice Sparks in Manchester, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 26th May 2019 we successfully raised £465 with 55 supporters in 26 days

The purpose is to train people who have experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides of their city.

by Alice Sparks in Manchester, England, United Kingdom

6th position in the competition

6th place in the Projects that matter Greater Manchester - Most Raised

3rd position in the competition

3rd place in the Projects that matter Greater Manchester - Most supporters

What do we do? 

Invisible (Manchester) is part of Invisible Cities, a global social enterprise that trains people who have experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides of their city #seethingsdifferently

We are only 6 months old!! So far we have made a very little amount of money go a long waywe are immensely proud of the impact we have had. But now, we are at a critical stage of growth in which we are training more tour guides and recruiting a bigger staff team. We are exciting to be crowdfunding to support this transition!

The idea was founded in 2016 in Edinburgh by Zakia Moulaoui after years of working with homelessness on an international scale. The first expansion to Manchester was facilitated by Alice Sparks in 2017 whilst in her final year of university. This is when Invisible Cities was established, we have since started in Glasgow and set to launch in York in June 2019. 

We provide alternative walking tours of Manchester with the aim to raise public awareness of homelessness by breaking down the negative stereotypes of people living on the streets. Our tour guides are given the platform to feel empowered, to tell their story and have their voices heard. Through tour guiding, they earn a small amount of money, gain transferable skills and regain their self-confidence - all of which expand their future horizons. Whilst also changing perceptions of the streets, the tours encourage members of the public to become active participants in their community by volunteering, donating money or actually stopping and talking to a person living on the street. 

Invisible Cities is a GLOCAL social enterprise: working at a local level but with a global reach. We can keep small teams in the cities we are in- 5 guides maximum per city- as we want to focus on the quality of support provided and enable guides to be actors in their communities.

Why is Our Work Important?

Our tours are an active and innovative response to the visible homelessness crisis on the streets of the UK. This issue is not confined to the UK, it is a global challenge. According to Habitat for Humanity, at least 150 million people are homeless worldwide.

Charity Street Soccer Scotland, which commissioned the research into the attitude towards homelessness in 2017, found that 41% of those questioned were "fearful" of approaching the homeless

National statistics capturing the pattern of deaths among rough sleepers and people living in homeless shelters confirm that 50 people died on the streets of Manchester in 2018, this is the highest number of deaths of homeless people. 

This is reflection of how dehumanised and marginalised people living on the streets are. One of our guides in Edinburgh called Biffy said "When you are homeless you are invisible."

Jesus the Homeless on St.Ann's Square. Photo by Emma Boileau. 

How do we work? 


We support our tour guides by providing in-depth and tailored training in confidence building, public speaking and customer service. We also organise learning days at various cultural institutions and museums around Manchester, such as Manchester Art Gallery, Central Library and Greater Manchester Police Museum. These sessions help inspire the tour content. Each tour guide chooses their own theme, and we encourage them to include history of the city, local knowledge, social enterprises and personal stories in their tours. Their tour is entirely their own creation, we support them to the best of their needs to convert their interests and passions into a tour. 

Image of Danny's brochure. Each of our tour guides get their own personalised brochure. 


Since launching our first public tours in Manchester on the 20th of October 2018, we have run 45 tours with over 300 tour customers and hosted 10 public presentations to an audiences amounting to over 1,000 people. This means Danny, our first tour guide, has walked over 3 MARATHONS in his time as a tour guide with us! We need your support to buy him plenty of protein shakes!! 

Greater Manchester is placed as the third most popular tourist destination in the UK, meaning the tourism sector is worth £7.9bn and supports 94,000 jobs, while attracting 119 million visitors per year. As the tourism sector expands so too does the expectations of the tourist, two main trends have emerged; authentic tourism and sustainable tourism. There is a growing demand for more authentic tourism, people are eager to have a local interaction with the city they are visiting 'off the beaten track'. Sustainable tourism is expanding globally; according to a report, 87% of global travellers state that they want to travel in a sustainable manner. Thereby our target customer is the "Conscious Consumer" a traveller who likes to engage in activities that are local, personal and with impact on the ground, wherever they visiting. 

We also work with locals to Manchester. We encourage them to see their city differently by showing them a different perspective to areas they may have walked by for years. Our main groups include school students and corporate offices on lunch time tours. 

Photos from tours.

Our Social Impact 

As we are a social enterprise our social mission is embedded in every layer of our work. 

Guide Development

We empower our tour guides to have their voice heard. Homelessness destroys people’s self-worth, as they become isolated and invisible having fallen through the cracks of society. We help and support these individuals to rebuild their self-confidence and self-belief through the tour guide training, and then provide them with tours as a platform to build themselves further. The tours create a unique atmosphere in which customers open their eyes a little more and become more attentive to their surroundings. There is something very special about having a group of 10 or 15 customers on a tour listen to every word said by the tour guide with the utmost respect and care. Beyond tour guiding, we provide our guides with the opportunity to access development and employment opportunities beyond tour guiding. We provide support with every aspect of their lives. We have a dedicated and wonderful volunteer to support our guides and offer them a friendly and supportive network. 

"I used to sleep on Market Street. Now I am getting a suit fitted for an awards ceremony with Invisible (Manchester)." - said by Danny on the way to a suit fitting at Slaters (kindly donated) for an awards ceremony we are attending. 

"When I first saw her, I thought to myself what is this lady go to teach me. But wow, the inspiration in her, I was a completely different person after her." - said by Lawrence about our public speaking workshop with Maggie Ford. 

Changing Perceptions of Homelessness: 

We challenge the negative stereotypes that exist surrounding homelessness. Homelessness is portrayed as a distant and dehumanised concept to many members of the public, but we aim to emphasise the message that homelessness really can happen to anyone. The tours transform people’s opinions of homelessness, the opportunity to actually talk to someone who has been homeless and recognise that they are just human is invaluable.


After we have paid our guides a flat-fee of £20 per tour, 100% of our funds are reinvested back into our tour guide development or a social initiative. In Edinburgh we fund a street barbers and a women's pampering night and in Manchester we are supporting Danny, our first tour guide, in publishing a book of his poetry. The book will be sold on our online store and at the end of tour, the profits will be split between us and a donation to The Booth Centre. With the more tour guides we have, the more money we make meaning the more projects and impact we can have. 

Encouraging Wider Participation in the Community

The tours inspire and motivate our tour customers to volunteer at local homeless organisations, donate money to homeless charities or simply stop and have a conversation with a person living on the street. This allows them to become an active citizen within their community. In the coming months we want to establish a more fluid streamline to make this process more efficient and also start monitoring this pipeline to report further on our impact. 

Danny holding the Mancsy print.

Our Team

We currently have one tour guide in operation called Danny, three tour guides in training called Ben, Pete and Lawrence and one part-time member of staff called Alice, one part-time volunteer called Millie and ongoing support and advice from Zakia in Edinburgh. As Alice begun Invisible (Manchester), she occupies the role of general manager and oversee the everyday running and expansion of our operations. Our dedicated volunteer is called Millie, she is the Guide Support Officer with the role of building supportive and friendly relationship with our guides. One of our tour guides in training said "she's (Millie) changing the world through her kindness.

We are also taking on some Summer interns in the coming weeks. 

We all act as important female role models, by demonstrating that age and gender is not a barrier to the business. Our General Manager, Alice, has sat on three panel discussions since October and will be delivering a TEDx talk in May discussing running a social enterprise as a graduate aged 21.

Millie, Danny and Alice after a team meeting. Photo by Emma Boileau

Our Reviews

Our reviews, citing the tour as eye-opening and uplifting, are a testament to how the tours have positively impacted people’s knowledge of Manchester, understanding of homelessness and been an overall success.

"A tour like no other; inspiring and thought-provoking. His story breaks the boundaries of our perspectives on the homeless... at the end of the day, they are humans like the rest of us, and even a quick conversation will make a lot of difference." - Josh, TripAdvisor

"What a fantastic way to spend our Saturday. We learnt so much about our own city, and feel so much more informed about the systems and support in place for those affected by homelessness. - Lucy, Airbnb 

"It was incredibly special to listen and watch him give his experiences of the city through his eyes. The poems he performs at significant points of the tour really added a heartfelt and different element to what a city tour captures, I've never experienced one quite like it!" - Ornella, Google Reviews

What will we do with the money raised? 

We have achieved all of this on a very small budget, we  are experts in making a little go a long way. We seeking support to make our work bigger and better. 

All of the money raised will be invested in Invisible (Manchester) activities. This will have a ripple effect on us as Invisible Cities, by improving our credibility and thereby accelerate our brand to expand on the global stage. 

Guide Support

The greatest risk associated with our business today is that the people at the heart of our business, the guides, have the propensity to have complex needs. The impact of this risk is hard to quantify, it is conditional to each individual we work with. We feel we can overcome these risks by providing a strong network of support. This is why the role of our Guide Support, Millie, is so critical. 

In addition to this we want to offer more personal development and growth opportunities to our guides by delivering high-quality, ongoing training. We would also like to fund more Invisible Cities meetups, the success of our gathering in December demonstrates why this is so important. In facilitating these gatherings we would also like to establish a Guide Committee, giving them an opportunity to have their feedback heard formally and collaboratively. We hope to host our next gathering in September 2019. 


We need to increase our staff team to pay Alice on a full time salary and hire Millie part-time. 


We need to increase our presence within Manchester’s tourism market by paying membership fees to various tourism outlets. 


We have had interest from other UK locations, but also from Canada, Denmark, the USA, and Argentina. As a result we need support in developing a Franchise Manual for all current and future locations. This would ensure we protect our branding and reputation throughout. 

End of the tour, thank you for your support!!

Media links

Social Media




Media Attention 

We have attracted media attention from Channel 5 with Esther Rantzen, BBC Radio 4, The Guardian, BBC North West, Manchester Evening News and Banouto (a newspaper all the way from Benin!!)

The Guardian:

Manchester Confidential:

The Banouto:



This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£1 or more

Extreme Fame

An Invisible (Manchester) guide will give you a shout out on our Instagram story to thank you for every penny of your support. There may even be a sneaky poem if you are lucky!

£10 or more

2 of 20 claimed

Tour Ticket

An invitation to come on a tour!! Pledge this amount and let us now when you are available to join us on a unique tour around Manchester, Glasgow or Edinburgh.

£12 or more

2 of 20 claimed

Fashion Statement

We will thank you with a gift of Invisible Cities tote bag. The design has beautiful illustrations of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester to celebrate our work in each of the cities.

£15 or more

0 of 20 claimed

Extra Special Tour

Another invitation on a tour, but this with some added fun! Along with the tour ticket we will gift you a tote bag, badges and upload an Instagram picture of you with one of our tour guides. Again, this option is available in any of our Invisible Cities locations; Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester.

£20 or more

0 of 7 claimed

VIP Tour Launch Ticket

A very special opportunity to join our tour guides for the final stage of their training; to run his/her very first public tour. As we have three tour guides in training at the moment, we expect to launch new tours by the beginning of June. You can be one of the lucky people to join our tour guide in his premier tour of Manchester.

£25 or more

2 of 25 claimed

Signed Copy of Danny's Book

We are publishing a book of Danny's poetry from our tour profits. This is a dream of his and we are so excited to finally make it happen. Danny will sign a limited number of copies for the lovely people who are supporting us to say thank you.

£150 or more

0 of 5 claimed

Lunchtime Talk

We will come to a school, office or any other establishment to deliver a talk about Invisible (Manchester) over a lunch hour.

£170 or more

0 of 6 claimed

How to Build a Tour Workshop

What is your story? We will deliver a workshop on how to tell you story of your interests and passions through tour guiding. This hour and a half long workshop will include elements of the training programme we do with our tour guide and tips from our tour guides.

£500 or more

0 of 10 claimed

Package Deal

Spend an afternoon with us! With this package you can get a full tour for 20 people, followed by a discussion in our office at Federation House after the tour. This discussion will include talks about why the work of Invisible (Manchester) is so important and stories from our guides.

£1,000 or more

0 of 5 claimed

Weekend Escape to Glasgow

Scotland is the birthplace of Invisible Cities, and many other wonderful delights. Enjoy a unique trip to Glasgow, organised entirely by us! We will arrange the travel from around the UK, two nights stay in the Radisson Red Hotel, a traditional Scottish dinner and an Invisible (Glasgow) Tour. We are happy to negotiate, tailor and adapt the trip to your preferences and availability.

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