A former Barnoldswick woman and Nelson and Colne College student is offering tours with a difference in one of the Mediterranean’s tourism capitals.
Lisa Grace is to launch a social enterprise offering visitors an alternative tour of Barcelona by inviting tourists to see the city through the eyes of a homeless guide.
Hidden City Tours founder Lisa is originally from Barnoldswick but has lived in Barcelona for 10 years.
The mainly-historic tour aims to link together history with insights into the social reality of the areas visited.
Inspired by similar projects in the UK, including Unseen Tours of London and Secret City Tours of Bath, the tours will provide employment for Barcelona’s homeless and, in return, offer a unique tour experience of the city’s Gothic quarter.
Lisa said: “Barcelona has more than 3,000 homeless – the last street count in 2011 noted 870 people sleeping in the street and a further 2,000 in temporary accommodation.
“However, the city continues to flourish as a tourist destination, now the fourth most-visited city in Europe.
“So we decided to tap into Barcelona’s booming tourist trade and put it to work to help solve the city’s homeless problems by offering employment to people who want to work their way to a better life”
Lisa, who fell victim to the economic crisis last year when she lost her job as a market research consultant, is shocked by the social reality of living in Spain.
She added: “When you lose your job you realise how vulnerable you are. I was lucky to have family support but for those who don’t, ending up sleeping on the streets is a scarily close reality.”
Lisa approached a Barcelona homeless charity for possible candidates to work as guides.
Together with a local historian, she is currently training Juan Carlos, previously homeless but who lives in temporary accommodation provided by the charity. Lisa is now recruiting new members to join the team.
“It’s a whole new team management experience, but incredibly rewarding. The guides have amazing knowledge of Barcelona’s history and a unique insight into the city’s social reality which makes for a truly unique perspective of the Mediterranean city,” said Lisa.
The tours run in English and Spanish and start tomorrow, priced 10 Euros for adults and eight for concession. The maximum tour size is 10 people. For more information and to book go to www.hiddencitytours.com