Working & Living

See Vienna through the eyes of the homeless

By on 1st August 2016

Homeless people in Vienna can now become city tour guides. In a 2,5 hour walk they’ll show you the Austrian capital through their eyes and take you to three locations: an emergency night shelter, a soup kitchen and a training or social worker session.

The name of this project is Shades Tours and its goal is to challenge people’s prejudices and help homeless people get access to the job market. “It’s about increasing awareness of homelessness and also trying to reduce the fear and stigma associated with homeless people”, says 32-year-old founder and businesswoman Perrine Schober in an interview with The Local Austria.

According to her website there are over 16.000 homeless people in Austria at the moment, 10.000 of them reside in Vienna of which 1200 are actually sleeping on the city’s pavement. Ten of these homeless people are now working as tour guides.  One of them, Dieter, is a former soldier who suffered from a burn out and ended on the streets. “Homelessness can happen to anyone. Once I was the man who thought it could never happen to him”, he told the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation ORF.

The tour won’t focus on the personal stories of the guides though. “It would be unfair to make them retell their story which could be very painful,” Schober explains. She hopes getting involved in these tours might help some homeless people re-enter the job market. “Being involved in the tours could be something that future employers use as a reference for reliability and a willingness to work.”

The tours are only in German. For prices and other information you can check the ShadesTours website.