A CHARITY which trains ex-homeless people to run walking tours in their own cities has launched an emergency appeal to help its guides in Glasgow and across the UK.

Invisible Cities has had to cancel all of its activities because of the coronavirus outbreak, which has now claimed the lives of 22 people across Scotland.

Founder Zakia Moulaoui, who is a Glasgow Times Scotswoman of the Year finalist for 2019, is now hoping to raise £5000 to provide food and essentials to help the ‘distressed’ guides through the crisis.

“We have been hit pretty hard by COVID 19, like everybody else,” she said.

“Stopping all of our activities for three months has put our whole organisation, like many other small businesses and social enterprises, at risk.

“Our biggest concern remains our guides, as they will become at risk financially – they can no longer earn the small bit of income the tours provide.

“Some of our guides have young children and so we want to react now, to make sure that the damage done by COVID-19 is limited.”

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Zakia added: “The good thing is that all 13 of our guides in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and York are at least in temporary accommodation, which means they can stay safe, self-isolate and access the right advice. That is not the case, of course, for other homeless people.”

Zakia is hoping the cash raised through the JustGiving appeal will help to supply food and other essential items.

“We have a network of volunteers who will help us get these to them,” she explained. “We are hoping to organise weekly deliveries to them all to make sure they have access to at least what they need for themselves and their families.”

Invisible Cities has also just released a collection of fun and educational activity packs for children, in light of the extended school closures across the country.

Zakia added: “Though these packs are free to download and print, we are asking people to donate for each one so we can at least generate some income while there are no tours.”

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Zakia set up Invisible Cities because she was sick of seeing homeless people struggle on the streets and being unable to do anything about it. The Edinburgh-based activist, who is originally from France, is a former director of the Homeless World Cup Foundation, a global network of street soccer competitions.

Invisible Cities offers ‘off the beaten track’ walking tours while supporting people affected by homelessness. The Glasgow tours, run by Daniel Collins, a former addict who was made homeless when he was a teenager, have been a huge success.

To support the charity’s urgent appeal visit https://www.justgiving.com