A CHARITY for young people in care claims a letting agent rejected their bid for new office space as they would not be able to "control those people".

William Stitt and Joseph Rankin of The Nevis Group said they were horrified by the attitude of the representative from property agents Ryden.

And they want to issue a call to end the out-dated stigma against children and young people in the care system.

Ryden bosses have apologised for the comments of the staff member, who was working on behalf of office space The Whisky Bond.

William said: "After viewing the office space we were really excited and thought it was fantastic with enough space to grow and develop.

"Communications with Ryden seemed really positive and we even started looking at office furniture."

After having not heard back from the Ryden agent, he phoned to find out what was happening with the office space.

William added: "I was so shocked by his words. He said it was a 'no go' and added 'I don't know how you are going to control those people.'

"He said having care experienced young people would make The Whisky Bond less safe for the other tenants.

"I am care experienced and it took me back to when I was 14 and a taxi driver was dropping me off at the children's unit where I was living.

"He asked me what I 'had done' to be living there. I have spent 20 years fighting stigma and it suddenly seemed pointless."

The Nevis Group was set up three years ago to support young people leaving care with the skills needed to live independently and secure work.

William and Joseph met 20 years ago at the charity Who Cares? Scotland.


Care experienced young people gather in Glasgow

Joseph, Chief Executive Officer of The Nevis Group, said: "Our friendship was forged because we had joint beliefs on how the care system is failing people going through it.

"When William finished the phone call he was angry and it almost beggared belief from my point of view: this stigma couldn't still be in existence, all these years down the line.

"I was sceptical that this could have been said so I phoned Ryden's staff member back and to my complete astonishment he repeated himself.

"At that point I no longer had any doubt. It's disgusting, that's the short and sweet version."

Joseph and William say they have repeatedly asked for a meeting with The Whisky Bond and say an apology from Ryden is not good enough.

A spokeswoman for Ryden said: “Ryden is the letting agent for The Whisky Bond building and acts under the instruction of our client, the owner of The Whisky Bond.

“In this case the property owner wanted to investigate with the potential tenant whether the access to the building, which is unmanned, would be suitable for their requirements.

“We are very sorry that during the course of this conversation offence was caused. That would never be our intention and we have apologised directly the The Nevis Group.

“Ryden works with many diverse organisations and has a long track record of finding space within commercial buildings for charities. We would never discriminate against any organisation or individual.

“At no time have we suggested that the space not be occupied by The Nevis Group, or that it is unsuitable for The Nevis Group.”

A spokeswoman on behalf of The Whisky Bond, in Speirs Locks, said: "We pride ourselves on ensuring The Whisky Bond is an inclusive, welcoming space and we are sorry that this misunderstanding - which, having spoken to Ryden, was completely unintentional - has occurred.


The Whisky Bond is building a creative community

"As with all occupational enquiries at The Whisky Bond; had we been able to agree commercial terms and understand the operational processes behind Nevis Group's business –which we were in the process of reviewing - we would have been more than happy to progress discussions at The Whisky Bond.

"We take great care in ensuring that The Whisky Bond is home to a diverse collective of charities, creators and makers.

"We have previously offered, and offer again, to have a face to face meeting with Mr Stitt and Mr Rankin to resolve any misunderstanding to provide reassurance that we work hard to create a welcoming environment for all."

Who Cares? Scotland today has released a report saying children who grow up in care are treated like second class citizens and their rights are infringed daily, according to a new report.

The findings, called We Don't Have To Wait , will be presented to first minister Nicola Sturgeon today.

Kevin Browne-MacLeod, Director at Who Cares? Scotland said: "Care Experienced people are just like everyone else.

"We’ve got hopes, dreams, aspirations and from time to time, face challenges.

"Joe and William were so motivated to help people overcome some of those challenges that they set up an entire organisation.

"It is so disappointing that their attempt to do something good has resulted in them facing discrimination.

"We hear from members who are left really upset when communities campaign against children’s homes being built in their area; when businesses deny them services and when parents don’t let their children play with them.

"That’s we are calling for the UK Government to make Care Experience a protected characteristic under the Equality Act and it’s why we’re working with the Scottish Government on the development of a Public Education campaign.

"We will only achieve our vision of a lifetime of equality, respect and love for Care Experienced people when we end discrimination."

William and Joseph are now determined to turn the experience on its head, using it as inspiration for a new campaign: Stamp Stigma Out for Care Experienced People.