Charity staff were reduced to tears when their respite facility for disabled children was trashed at the weekend.
Fabb Scotland took a booking for one of their newly refurbished rooms, near Callander, from someone saying they were a family with an autistic child who needed a weekend break. It was the first booking since the ease of lockdown restrictions.
But a group of more than 20 people turned up on Saturday night, leaving a room meant to sleep five in such a mess that the charity launched a £2200 online appeal towards the costs of cleaning and repair.
Staff members broke down when faced with cleaning human faeces from the floor, scrubbing sick from the carpets and removing urine-soaked mattresses.
Piles of empty beer, spirit and wine bottles were also left behind.
Given the nature of the respite accommodation, the charity has been able to reopen since phase 1 lockdown restrictions were eased.
Hannah Trickett from the charity said: “This would be bad enough at any time but during a global health pandemic this is not what our staff should be left to deal with.
“As well as trying to break into the main building, a new radiator was pulled off the wall, curtains and rails ripped down, toilets broken and there were bottles and rubbish everywhere, all in a room that has been recently done up for families and disabled young adults who need the break.”
The facility provides a lifeline for families who need time away from everyday life and allows children with additional needs to take part in social and educational activities outdoors.
Hannah said: “Never in the years of running residential weekends have we been faced with such blatant disrespect and contempt for our charity and beloved building which gives such joy to so many young people and their families.
“We are now faced with a costly clean-up at a time when money is tight.
“What makes it more heart-breaking is these selfish people will now ultimately have an impact on the amazing young people who need our services the most.”
The charity’s CEO Fiona Hird said said she was “disappointed that someone would lie in such a way”.
She added: “We are deeply upset following the events which led to the significant damage of our youth centre in Callander.
“We understand that lockdown has been difficult and that many of us are desperate to see family and friends, but we are stringently following government guidelines at Fabb and with time, money and effort were able to open or youth centre for bookings for single households.
“For someone to then book underthe false pretences of seeking respite for their autistic child - instead taking advantage of our facility to host a gathering of more than 20 people - is saddening for all of us at the charity and is an irresponsible act we have been left to contend with.
“To then see our facility vandalised, leading to thousands of pounds worth of repairs, means we are now unable of taking any bookings for an extended period and many parents, carers and young people will have to wait longer for the respite break they so desperately need and deserve.”
As the Observer went to press the original £2200 crowdfunding target had been exceeded and stood at £2800 and rising.
A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “On Saturday we received a report of vandalism to one of the rooms at the Trossachs Tryst, Callander.”
He added: “Police attended but the persons who had been staying there had left the premises. “Enquires are ongoing.”
To donate to help the charity visit the online donation page at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/FabbScotland?utm_term=yMe4D5gzR.
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