Secret City Tours
Luke has been involved with enterprise activities at Bath throughout his time as a student. He was president of the entrepreneur society and went on to work with the enterprise team part whilst writing up his PhD, during which time he helped to organise a range of enterprise events.
He has always been passionate about equality of opportunity and worked with UnLtd Award Winner Dominic Povey in the early stages of his social enterprise venture (The Bath Soup Co.) which also sought to address employment issues amongst people who have experienced homelessness.
Luke took inspiration from the 'Unseen London' tours and spotted an opportunity to run a similar venture in Bath which he named 'Secret City Tours'. The project involves people who are either homeless or vulnerably housed being paid to give tours of the city in which they live, including secret places which other tour guides might not cover.
Luke initially received a 'Try It' level Award to run two pilot events and a further 'Do It' Award to build the business following the success of these pilots. As he moved on to another job, Luke managed the transition of the project to local homeless charity Julian House, who are continuing to develop and grow the business. Luke says that without the funding from UnLtd it would have been impossible to set up the venture in the short period of time (6 months) that was available.
So far, his biggest challenge has been learning to work closely with vulnerable adults whilst not becoming too emotionally involved and stressed by the experience. He has also had to learn how to deal with the media, especially when two BBC film crews followed the first Secret City Tour.
"My biggest mistake has probably been trying to take on too much personally; and my biggest success has definitely been the national media coverage we have received."
The project's social impact includes:
- 1 job created
- 3 people in training
- 220 paying tour customers more aware of homelessness issues
- National media coverage for homelessness issues
Luke is most pleased that Alex, his Head Guide, has developed greater self-belief and confidence in his abilities as a consequence of receiving training and support to lead tours. Being paid has helped him to work towards his goal of moving out of sheltered accommodation and into privately rented housing.
Luke has also learned a great deal from the experience. Before launching Secret City Tours he wondered if he had what it takes to actually start and run a business of his own and this project has boosted his own confidence significantly. The project has reaffirmed Luke's belief that he can be a successful social entrepreneur and he says it makes him far more likely to launch another business in the future.
Luke has managed the transition of Secret City Tours over to Bath-based homeless charity Julian House, having recognised that the new job he was starting would not allow him the time to develop the project further himself.