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Unseen Tours: exploring London with the homeless

Ever thought of exploring Shoreditch, a hip London neighborhood, guided by a homeless man? With the Unseen Tours, it won’t be your average walking tour.

A big, blondish guy walks towards us at the entrance of the Old Street underground station, carrying an “Unseen Tours” sign, and I can’t help thinking: “Wow, he doesn’t look like a homeless!”.
Stupid, I know.

But that’s exactly why The Sock Mob Homeless Volunteer Network designed these tours: to erase the stigma attached to the word “homeless”.
“I was homeless, but not a drug addict, an alcoholic or a thief. Nonetheless, that’s what people thought”, says Henri.


Henri, a college graduated originally from Latvia, is now living in a hostel, but used to live in a tent in the middle of a big roundabout in Shoreditch.

Then, a few years ago, a volunteer organization that goes around the city spending some time and distributing socks to people in need, had a unique idea: why not design some sustainable tours through the city led by the homeless, who undoubtedly know the area better than anyone else?

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And so Henri became a guide for the Unseen Tours (and I promise he DOES know the area!), together with Mike, Viv and John who lead other tours in Camden, Covent Garden and London Bridge.

The tour was a 2 hour long walk around Shoreditch, an hip neighborhood in East London that was crime-ridden and quite dangerous in the past, but now it’s vivacious and home to many young artists and creative minds.

I wasn’t expecting one of those “this is Buckingham Palace and this is the Big Ben” kind of tours, of which I’m not exactly a fan, and in fact we walked around back alleys, discovering street art and hidden places, while Henri filled us with curious informations and anecdotes on the neighborhood.
Like hey, did you know that Hitchcock filmed most of his movies around Shoreditch?

street art found in shoreditch back alleys

He showed us Wesley Chapel, where Margaret Thatcher was married, and then the location of an old secret MI5 prison; later we walked through the Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, where William Blake’s grave is located.

But the thing I enjoyed the most though, was listening to Henri openly talk about his life as a homeless, about discrimination and the gap between the rich and the poor.
With 50,000 people living in the streets, it’s compelling to do something about it; taking a tour with them is a way for you to help, and you won’t regret it, guaranteed.
Join them for a mind blowing tour that will inspire you and give you a unique view of London.

“Anyone can become homeless”, says Henri at one point, “Anyone”.
And I’m standing there, thinking.

The Unseen Tours is an award winning social enterprise organizing unique London walking tours in the neighborhoods of Camden, Covent Garden, Shoreditch and the London Bridge.

In the weekend tours are walk-in while in the week you need to book through their website. Tours are about two hours long and cost £12 for adults. Definitely add this tour to your itinerary

READ ALSO: How to Spend Two Days in London: The Perfect Itinerary

Have you participated in a walking tour by “Unseen Tours”? Is there anything like that in your hometown? I’d love to hear from you!

  • Stefania Guglielmi

    Stefania Guglielmi is the founder of Every Steph. Originally from Bologna, Italy, she's been traveling full-time since 2016 and has visited over 50 countries across 6 continents. She believes sustainable travel and luxury travel can go hand in hand and has been advocating for responsible tourism since 2014. Stefania's advice and travel experiences have been featured in important publications such as Business Insider, Refinery29, and Yahoo Money.


Wednesday 23rd of December 2015

I realise this is an old post however, I just read it and really love the concept of unseen tours. Going to look them up when I'm in London next - thank you for sharing your experience!

Alice Teacake

Wednesday 16th of December 2015

I love absolutely everything about this! What a fantastic idea. London needs this: people need a purpose and this tour company has just gone and done something awesome. Really intrigued to see what other tours they have on offer. Being a local Londoner myself, it would be cool to get a different perspective - when I'm back from Asia I'll be checking this out!

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Monday 7th of December 2015

[…] Unusual London – 10 Things to Do Off the Beaten Path London yet so far away: a visit to Trinity Buoy Wharf Unseen Tours: exploring London with the homeless […]

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Wednesday 17th of June 2015

[…] Believe me, if you’re going on one tour this year, make it this one: it will change forever the way you think. Read more on my experience with Unseen Tours. […]

Jon Fuhrmann

Saturday 30th of May 2015

Interesting! London is so full of hidden gems, so this might be a tour I'm actually keen to go on. Excellent shout :)