A new walking tour of Dublin city is to start today, run by homeless people.
The new non-profit, social enterprise called "Secret Street Tours" launches today with the aim of helping people affected by homelessness to take steps towards independent living.
Secret Street Tours trains and employs homeless people to deliver walking tours in Dublin, and hopes to develop their confidence and provide skills to help them get long-term employment, education or training in order to secure housing.
The tour will include personal stories of the guide who has been affected by homelessness while exploring the cultural and historic landmarks of their local areas.
Initially, Secret Street Tours will offer one walking tour through the Liberties area in Dublin’s southwest inner city which will last around 90 minutes.
It will leave from the Garda Siochana Memorial Gardens to St Patrick’s Tower and will be delivered by co-founder Derek McGuire, a tour guide who has lived in the area his whole life, and will hear his stories of growing up there.
As well as his experiences of homelessness, Derek will discuss what helped him through his lowest points and outline his hopes for completing his degree at art college. In time, other tour guides will offer more tours across Dublin.
Founder of Secret Street Tours and recent Trinity College Dublin graduate, Tom Austin, was inspired to develop the social enterprise after experiencing similar walking tours in Vienna. He has since been helped by other European Homeless Walking tours organisations, such as Unseen Tours, Invisible Cities and Mystreets.
Mr Austin said: “The idea behind the tours is that they provide a unique way for our guides to take back control of the narrative around homelessness, while offering customers an accessible and friendly channel to engage with this critical social issue. Everything we do is in partnership with our guides and our focus is to empower them to share their stories, gain new skills and confidence, and ultimately take the next steps in their journeys.”
“It’s been an inspiration working with Derek–our first tour guide and co-founder. He has worked tirelessly to create a unique walking tour experience of a neighbourhood to which he is deeply connected. He’s now also focusing on growing Secret Street Tours and giving a voice to the homeless community.”
Anyone interested in booking the Liberties Tour (groups of up to 10 people) should contact Secret Street Tours here.
The cost is €10 per person, with all money going to the tour guides.