Zakia is from France and has been living in Scotland for 10 years where she has worked with local and international charities, mostly organisations working with homeless people.
For several years, she was Director of International Partner Development at the Homeless World Cup Foundation, a global network of street soccer projects. She took a break at the end of 2015, to travel to Greece and volunteered in a refugee camp on Lesvos Island. When she returned to Scotland, she started setting up her own social enterprise: Invisible Cities. Zakia said, “Ultimately I think community is about finding a sense of belonging, a place of acceptance and a place where you can be empowered and empower others, whether it’s about a place or a group of people.”
It was there where she met the team at Social Bite and joined them to expand their impact throughout the country. In 2017, she worked for the Social Enterprise Academy, as part of their International Team. She now runs ‘Invisible Cities’ full time, operating in Edinburgh, Manchester and Glasgow.
Invisible Cities is a Scottish social enterprise that trains local people who have experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides of their own cities. They offer local and social tours, connecting tourists and locals with places that make the city what it is.
Zakia wants to create change around the stigma surrounding homelessness worldwide and bring people together, no matter their backgrounds, stories or problems. She said, “A sense of community is probably one of the most important things we can ever have. In a world where everybody is supposedly connected, I think we are maybe a bit less connected in a personal more meaningful way and not heard, so I think empowering communities is the best thing we can do.”