We all gathered hunched under a tree in St Peters square. It had been dry for weeks, but typically the day we decide to do a walking tour of Manchester, the heavens open. But this wasn’t any normal walking tour, Danny from Invisible Cities was going to show us ‘his’ Manchester.
Danny has lived homeless in a number of cities since leaving the army, he has a slight Liverpool twang but says he is now "an adopted Mancunian". The rain pauses and he gestures for us to head to the first stop, a monument in the square where he recited one of the first poems he’d written. There are 10 of us, stood in a horseshoe around him, listening intently to the poem and the stories that follow.
Danny’s normal weekend tour is 2 hours long, we had a 45 minute lunchtime slot so we only managed the first few stops. Each stop is punctuated with a thoughtful poetic exploration of the streets as he knew and lived them. He talks candidly of friends he’s made and friends he’s lost and of the increasing homeless community.
He lived on the streets for four years and started writing poetry round about five years ago, this creative output helped rebuild his confidence and he says, “poetry definitely helped to get me off the streets”. Now, Danny does a lot of volunteering. He says “For me the chance to put something back or help someone out is what it’s all about.”
You can book a tour in Manchester or one of the other current available cities (York, Glasgow, Edinburgh) available here.
And you can get hold of some of Danny’s poems here.