After facing domestic abuse, violence, and homelessness, a Glasgow woman had hit rock bottom until she found solace in walking tours.

After escaping a violent partner who had abused her and her young family for years, Angie found herself homeless with no one to turn to.

Finding secure accommodation gave her a safe place to stay, but her mind was left in tatters – and it wasn’t until discovering the social enterprise, Invisible Cities, that Angie was finally able to rebuild.

Invisible Cities trains people who have experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides of their own city, turning the streets they called home into a positive historic experience for tourists.

Hillingdon Times: People on a walking tour in GlasgowPeople on a walking tour in Glasgow

After receiving a grant of £8,600 from The National Lottery in 2020 for the Invisible Women of Scotland project, Angie was one of many women who participated in the workshops throughout the coronavirus pandemic and has now developed her own tour – The People of Glasgow.

“I wasn’t in a good place at all, I didn’t know if I was coming or going,” said Angie.

“My family and I faced sexual abuse from my ex-partner. I eventually had to have the police intervene so I could try and reach safety.

“Lockdown happened and I couldn’t get anywhere and then Zakia, my boss at Invisible Cities, came to a women’s group a few times and we went on a few tours. I really enjoyed it and that’s why I started doing my training to be a tour guide, and now, I’ve made all my tour up myself and my boss helps me with it, I get a lot of help and support.

“It’s brilliant getting good feedback from people – you are walking on air because sometimes I have a lot of doubt with myself. I think when you get that sort of feedback it makes you feel good, because you are doing something positive, and it helps build confidence.

“I’m totally different, I’m a whole new person now. Without Invisible Cities, I don’t think I’d be here.”

CEO and founder of Invisible Cities, Zakia Moulaoui Guery said: “I set up Invisible Cities in 2016 and I wanted to be able to provide opportunities for people to learn new, transferable skills so they could access opportunities – whether that’s a job, education or gaining confidence in themselves.

“I used to work for the Homeless World Cup Foundation, and they used football and sports in general to support people. That’s when I realized that no matter where you were from in the world, there was a big stigma around homelessness.

“Overall, we’ve trained about 75 people. The success stories are when confidence is built, and a lot of the time, especially with women, when we first meet, they can’t look you in the eye and they’re shy – now looking at Angie, she’s at the stage now where her confidence is much stronger.”

Strictly Come Dancing star Neil Jones, who struggled with homelessness as a teenager, is highlighting the incredible support National Lottery-funded homeless projects have provided to people all over the UK during the last 10 years.

The 31-year-old professional dancer is now a regular fixture on screens across the UK, but just a few years ago he was in a very different position and, for a brief time, he even found himself sleeping rough on the streets.

With Christmas fast approaching, Neil is helping to highlight the extensive funding and support The National Lottery has provided to homelessness projects over the last decade.

Hillingdon Times: Strictly star Neil Jones has opened up about his experience of homelessness as a teenagerStrictly star Neil Jones has opened up about his experience of homelessness as a teenager

Since 2010, more than half a billion pounds (over £576 million) has been awarded to more than 3,000 projects that involve or support homeless people or help tackle homelessness throughout the UK.

Jones said: “With winter upon us and Christmas just around the corner, now is the perfect time of year to spare a thought for those who don’t have a home to go to or have somewhere safe, comfortable and warm to sleep over the festive period.

“It’s tough to think about the difficult things they’re going through at this time of year because it’s such a time of joy for most of us, but it’s important to recognise that there are so many people out there who really do need our help.

“Thankfully, there are countless incredible charities and organisations doing some really incredible work supporting homeless people across the UK with National Lottery funding.”

The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, alone has awarded more than 600 grants worth around £80 million to projects that involve homeless people since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.

David Knott, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, we are able to provide much-needed funding to incredible organisations that are making an important difference to people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.

“Whether supporting people experiencing homelessness to improve prospects for employment, supporting with mental health or providing a safe place where people can build their confidence and self-esteem, dedicated groups and their volunteers are working tirelessly with the homeless community, so that they are better able to overcome challenges and hopefully go on to prosper and thrive.”

Thanks to National Lottery players, more than £30 million goes to good causes across the UK every week, which in turn helps charities and organisations which support homeless people in our communities. To find out more about National Lottery funding go to