What are Social Tours?

Homeless, unemployed and socially disadvantaged people show their city from an unusual perspective. They lead the visitor groups into their public living room, to an emergency sleeping place or to a street kitchen. The tour guides tell personal stories from their everyday life on the street. A shared goal is the reduction of prejudices.

Impact and Empowerment

They are accompanied on their way from being affected to becoming experts in their life ruptures. Together with experts, the tour guides develop their individual tours and texts in over 30 different cities on the basis of their life stories.

INST is the new foundation of an international network with the following goals:

  • Knowledge transfer and social innovation for international tour providers
  • Empowerment and new life perspectives for the tour guides
  • Networking and raising social awareness through the international network

INST supports organisations that offer social tours. Through exchange, networking and further training the tour providers and tour guides receive support developing and setting up new tours.

INST raises awareness for topics such as poverty, homelessness and social exclusion. A common goal is to raise social awareness within the network: the breaking down of prejudices and fears of contact.

Empowerment of tour providers: The joint exchange of experiences among tour providers is the focus of an annual conference. The aim is to further develop the offer through knowledge transfer and workshops. Possible topics:

  • Social support for tour guides
  • Narrative biography work
  • Creating tour texts
  • Best practice examples
  • Design concept for new tours
  • Evaluation and organization tools
An important goal of INST is to support the guides in their role as experts. To this end, we will offer peer-learning workshops as part of exchange meetings. Possible topics are:

  • Presence training and understanding of roles
  • Communication with target groups
  • Further development of tours and texts
INST plans an annual INST conference for experience exchange among tour providers. Further meetings and joint tour visits for experience exchange in different cities are also planned for the guides.
MarkusGuide Surprise Basel
“On the tours I experience a lot of respect and esteem. I feel integrated and accepted in society again.”
RuediGuide Surprise Zurich
“I show school classes or business people the city from our perspective – where we can get something to eat or where the best places to stay are.”
“My work as a city guide has made me feel accepted as a social person again.”
LilianGuide Surprise Basel
“As a homeless woman, I have experienced much contempt. In my new role as a city guide, I can counteract this exclusion – I don’t want pity.”
“Guiding a group gives me great pleasure. The laughter of my group makes my soul shine.”

HeikoGuide Surprise Basel
“When I got homeless, I had given up all hope. Thanks to the tours I was able to earn my own wages again and gained new self-confidence – I am proud of that.”
DannyGuide Invisible Cities Manchester
“I used to sleep on Market Street. Now I am getting a suit fitted for an awards ceremony with Invisible Cities in Manchester. It’s amazing how things turn around”.

NikosGuide Invisible Tours Athens
“As a guide I try to show people what is going on right next to them and make them realize that solidarity, awareness and self-respect are our greatest survival weapons.”

MihalisGuide Invisible Tours Athens
“For me the tours are of great social significance. On the tours we show our fellow citizens and the tourist groups the dark side of Athens, the side that people ignore or don’t want to know about.”
SonnyGuide Invisible Cities Edinburgh
“The tours give me something to do, a routine that I need every day in my life. Besides, I meet people from around the world.”
DanielGuide Invisible Cities Glasgow
“I am the first guide from Glasgow, a pioneer for the social enterprise. It gives me a sense of purpose. I am very proud of my work with Invisible Cities!”

Become a member of INST!

Join now and benefit from the international exchange with other tour providers:

Athens  Basel  Bern  Edinburgh  Glasgow  Manchester  Vienna  Zurich

Join us