As we come to the end of the first stage of HI Future’s user research into the business barriers to employing people who have experienced homelessness, and head into sharing the insights we’ve gathered with our community of businesses, charities and public sector teams, we couldn’t think of anyone better to speak to than Danny Collins, tour guide and storyteller extraordinaire at Invisible Cities Manchester.
Having experienced homelessness personally, with support from the Booth Centre, Danny now shares his story and knowledge of our home city on his alternative tour of Manchester. A project exclusively employing those impacted by homelessness, the charity is a great example of the potential of employment, and an incredible way to understand the impact homelessness can have both personally and societally.
TELL US ABOUT YOU, YOUR WORK AND INTEREST IN HOMELESS EMPLOYMENT.
Uhm, about me. I am a person who was homeless on the streets of Manchester for four and a half years. My initial involvement with volunteering and committee work through the Manchester Homeless Partnership means I now work closely with people and other homeless organisations to help people get back into employment.
WHAT ENCOURAGED YOUR DECISION TO GO BACK TO WORK?
People ask me why I do a lot of the volunteering or what I get out of it… I just say it’s not what I get out of it but instead what I can put back into it.
WHAT SUPPORT WAS AVAILABLE IN GETTING BACK INTO WORK?
There was excellent mentor support through the Booth Centre. The mentors have been through those experiences, they understand you and were a great help to me. They helped me move on to becoming a mentor myself. Through the Booth Centre, and experience with Walking with the Wounded and the Veteran’s Associations, plus contributing to Manchester Street Poem with Manchester International Festival and now through my job at Invisible Cities, it all helped me rebuild myself and my self-esteem. With the tour guiding I do now for Invisible Cities Manchester, I have learnt to do a lot more public speaking and I get a lot of what I want to achieve through that.
HOW WERE YOU FEELING WHEN YOU STARTED YOUR NEW JOB?
It was very daunting to start off with, I must admit. Yet, it wasn’t a pushed kinda thing. I was given time to gain my confidence and build myself up. It was a slow process but a good one.
What’s needed from an employer in making working a great experience for someone who has experienced homelessness?
Understanding. Understanding of people who have experienced homelessness and understanding that not every person who has been homeless has problems.
To learn more about Invisible Cities Manchester and their tours led by people have been impacted by homelessness, check out their website here.