TEENAGER Blake Ross who died this week after running away from a foster unit is the third young person in state care to die since Christmas, a leading charity has warned.
Duncan Dunlop, chief executive of Who Cares? Scotland which speaks on behalf on children under state supervision, said the late 13-year-old had been involved with the charity and was among several young people in the care system to have died in recent weeks.
Blake Ross was found unwell on a bus 48 hours after running away from his Edinburgh care home before being taken to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children where he died.
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He had gone missing without his diabetes medication.
Mr Dunlop said every month since July a young person in care had died - all aged under 25.
"That is just those known to our network," he said.
"Today, I woke up to new statistics from the BBC outlining that care experienced people are more likely to be dead by the age of 21. Then followed the news that one of our 13 year old members had died after being found unwell on a bus," he said.
"It is the third time that I have received a call like that this year. We are thinking about all of the care experienced young people we know today who are no longer with us."
Mr Dunlop said the charity had knowledge of all three, one of whom was among the two teenagers who died in Her Majesty's Young Offenders Institute Polmont in January. The other was a young woman who took her own life over the festive period.
While Blake's death appears to have been an accident, questions need to be asked about why he felt the need to run away and why so many young people with experience of the care system feel a lack of belonging in society, he said.
“Statistics and news headlines tell us that something is wrong but they don’t tell us why," he said. "Care experienced people are more likely to die younger.
"Young people tell us time and again that they want stable, loving relationships. They tell us that they want a say in the things that happen to them. "And they often tell us that a life in care hasn’t offered them that."
By last night, around £1500 had been donated to an online fund set up to help pay for a funeral for Blake Ross, whose death is being treated by police as unexplained.
The appeal says he died from a cardiac arrest and had left St Katharine's [corr] Centre a council residential unit in Howdenhall without his diabetes medication.
His death will be probed by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner, which offers independent scrutiny of the most serious incidents involving the police, while the council is to commission a significant case review.
Yesterday his former foster carers Jennifer and Jack Savage, of South Queensferry described Blake as "kind and caring". They had to stop looking after him due to illness, Mrs Savage said, but he had stayed in touch. "He was with us around three years ago, but we couldn't look after him any more because I had cancer," she said.
"He always wanted to come back and stay with us. When he would phone us he would say 'I can come back and look after you instead', but that was just how kind he was," she added. "He was a lovely wee boy." She said Blake had understood the seriousness of his diabetes but the condition had been difficult to manage.
Meanwhile Who Cares? will also raise the case with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is due to visit the charity on Friday ahead of a much anticipated review of the system for looking after children in care.
Mr Dunlop added: "The First Minister has announced a root and branch review of care in Scotland. This is a critical moment. The review will seek to understand how we offer love and long term relationships to young people in care.
"The news today is a sobering reminder as to why it is necessary. Unfortunately, it will have come too late for some. If we do not hear the care experienced voice throughout the review, we will miss the opportunity to create the change that the news today tells us is desperately needed.”