Dr Claudia Dolezal, Senior Lecturer in Tourism, wrote an article for The Conversation about how a group of homeless tour guides reinvented their roles during the coronavirus pandemic.
In the article, Dr Dolezal outlines the work of Unseen Tours, a London-based social enterprise that offer homeless and those living in vulnerable housing in London to train as tour guides for the city.
Talking about the benefits of the programme, she wrote: “Research has shown that the tours can challenge social stigmas while involving those that have previously been marginalised. By guiding tourists through these spaces, homeless guides are not only making themselves and their experience of space more visible, but also reclaiming their place in it as legitimate.”
Due to the global pandemic, Unseen Tours moved their activities online, holding virtual quizzes. Dr Dolezal wrote: “It has demonstrated that in times of crisis, virtual spaces have also become spaces for marginalised Londoners to reclaim power.”
She added: “The volunteers that run Unseen Tours have established an innovative approach to create a new opportunity for those guides affected by the crisis. Unseen Tours’ ‘Not-in-a-Pub-Quiz’ has become a monthly event that brings together guides and those keen to enjoy an evening of entertainment, while also challenging the stigma surrounding homelessness and providing income for the guides.”