Ramón, born in Salamanca in his youth he travelled extensively and lived for many years in France and more recently the US where we worked as a professional chef in many high class restaurants and hotels for over 20 years. In 2008 Ramón returned to Spain and came to Barcelona in search of work but struggled to find a permanent job. Despite undertaking many part time jobs promoting local concerts and volunteering in a local prison he found himself living on the streets. "When my social worker read about Hidden City Tours in the local newspaper she immediately suggested that I get in touch, so I called Lisa and the next day we met for an interview!" Ramón is now living in a shared flat and hopes that working as a guide will enable him to live a more dignant life on a day to day basis.
Watch this short 4 minute film about Ramon:
José, born and raised in the catalan capital he worked as a translator for a number of publishing houses before losing his job. A year later when his unemployment benefit and savings ran out he found himself sleeping in a cash point. Social services have now tempoarily housed José in a social shelter and he´s optimistic about the future and leaving behind "the bad times" as he refers to his homeless days. "Getting up every morning with a purpose and coming to work as a guide has provided me with a much needed focus. These are difficult, dark times for everyone right now in Spain, but I personally feel am on the road to recovering my old self thanks to Hidden City Tours".
Juan, born in Cádiz and then emigrated to Germany with his family in the 1970´s. Many years later Juan´s life was crossed by the white line of drugs that destroys lives and dreams. “I ended up dealing to feed my habit and then trafficking … before I knew it I was banged up with a 2 year sentence”. Upon release from prison he was deported to his native country, Spain..a country completely foreign to Juan who had lived 30 years in Germany. “My life spun around 360 degrees,.. they came into my cell one day and told me to get my bag. Why? I asked.. You´re leaving today they replied.” All alone in Barcelona without family or friends and a 10 year ban to return to Germany, Juan soon fell back into drugs and found himself sleeping on the streets. Juan was taken in by Wolfgang´s Chiringuito de dios, a small soup kitchen, where he worked as a volunteer and in return was given a roof over his head. “I met Lisa one day as the tours pass by the Chiringuito. They were looking to expand the team with German speakers so I signed up for the first training session”. Now in a shared flat with friends Juan recognises that he needs to start a new chapter in his life and refers to his job as a guide at Hidden City Tours as “the best thing that ever happened to me”.
Check out this documentary trailer for Buscando el Sol, featuring our wonderful guide Juan. We´re just glad you didn´t have to leave Barcelona to get out of the situation!
Lisa Grace, a market research consultant by profession and resident in Barcelona since 2004, joined the lengthy Spanish dole queue in 2012 and after some reflection, decided it was time for change. "I felt I had spent far too many years helping the global food, drink and cosmetic giants flog more of their products". Whilst looking for voluntary work in the spring of 2013, Lisa stumbled across Unseen Tours, a social Enterprise in London offering homeless walking tours. "From that moment on, there was no looking back.... I knew Barcelona would be perfect for a homeless walking tour project: Barcelona´s biggest asset being tourism, visitor origen correlating closely to the most generous givers to charity, the growing homeless problems in the city and increased consumer consciousness for responsible tourism".