Homelessness refers to people who do not have a secure place to live, or if they did, they could not stay. Homelessness is a symptom of poverty and many organizations have offered help to homeless people by providing financial aid, free meals and shelters. One British organization, Unseen Tours, has acted differently by hiring homeless individuals in London as tour guides offering tours to tourists and locals. This article will discuss the causes of homelessness before looking at the work of Unseen Tours and its accomplishments.
Causes of Homelessness
According to research by Shelter in 2021, nearly 280,000 people were homeless in England; among them, more than 120,000 were children. In addition, the data shows that London had the highest ratio of homeless people with one in 53 people having no place to live. Here are some important causes of homelessness in Great Britain:
- Unemployment: Without a job, people cannot afford to pay rent or mortgage payments. In turn, this contributes to a rise in homelessness among those who were financially struggling before they became unemployed.
- Poverty Trap: This factor is a consequence of unemployment. When someone loses their home because they fail to make a rent or mortgage payment, their credit rating suffers. As a result, it becomes more challenging for that person to find an alternative home.
- Bereavement: A person could become homeless if their financial supporters die. This makes it difficult for the vulnerable to sustain themselves.
Established in 2010, Unseen Tours aims to provide a platform for homeless people to tell their stories. The organization wants to change conventional perspectives on the homeless such as the stereotype of laziness. To do so, Unseen Tours employs homeless people as guides in London who offer tours for tourists and locals. This allows the homeless to use their knowledge for the benefit of the city. Not only does the job boost the confidence of the needy, but it also equips them with useful skills.
Moreover, Unseen Tours also works closely with other organizations that share similar objectives. Together, they organize training programs for guides and signpost them to additional support.
In 2020, Unseen Tours celebrated its 10th birthday and won a Homeless Link Excellence Award. Since the establishment of Unseen Tours, 24 homeless guides have worked with the organization, holding more than 450 tours with more than 6,500 customers.
Overall, homelessness is a common social issue in different parts of the world. A substantial number of organizations have taken steps to help the homeless. While shelter and financial aid are necessary for homeless people, work opportunities are also valuable because unemployment is one of the core causes of homelessness. Moreover, working allows vulnerable individuals to rebuild their confidence and self-esteem. Unseen Tours has taken a novel approach to combat homelessness and their work should serve as a model for other industrialized nations dealing with homelessness.
– Mimosa Ngai