SNP MP Mhairi Black has backed a call to put unconditional love at the very heart of a revolution in Scotland’s care system.

The call has been highlighted throughout Care Experienced Week – organised by Who Cares? Scotland and ending today – by those who have been in care.

Events included a Love Rally on Friday and a Global Care Gathering yesterday, featuring inspiring people from Scotland and across the world who have experienced care. Several spoke about the need for a radical overhaul of a system which fails to put the emotional needs of young people front and centre.

Speakers at the gathering included Ishbel Holmes (pictured below, right), a Scottish-Iranian woman who became a champion racing cyclist – known as World Bike Girl – despite a difficult start to adult life as a runaway from foster care. She became homeless and struggled with her mental health due to years of trauma.

She told yesterday’s attendees that the first time she experienced love, and learned to love herself, was when she rescued a stray dog on a bike ride in rural Turkey. Her book about the experience – Me, My Bike and a Street Dog Called Lucy – was published earlier this year and she has now sold the film rights.

“People ask me: ‘Isn’t it dangerous what you do?’” she said. “I say nothing is more dangerous than when I was 16 and homeless in Scotland. We need to stand together as a family around the world and make sure that every child gets equality, respect and love.”

She was joined by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who later tweeted: “Ishbel Holmes is awesome.”

Meanwhile Paisley MP Black, who attended the Love Rally, called on Scots to consider children in care as of equal importance to their own.

“Children in care are immediately disadvantaged, and it will stay that way until we build a system which provides the unconditional love and support that those who grew up out-with the system take for granted,” she told the Sunday National.

“People are now starting to realise that children in care are not inherently bad. They are not in care because they are a problem.

“It is up to us to ensure that we support care-experienced children and help them grow into responsible, empathetic adults – just as much as it is our responsibility with all children. The Who Cares? Scotland Love Rally was an amazing event to get to take part in. The stories that were shared with me were touching and the people sincere. They must have a loud voice in all decisions taken with the care service moving forward.”

Fiona Duncan, chair of the independent review of Scotland’s care system, also backed the calls, claiming care experienced people had demanded, and were at the centre of, the review.

“We have a responsibility to make sure that anyone who experiences the ‘care system’ is treated with love and empathy and given every opportunity to thrive, in ways most of us probably take for granted,” she said.

“The Care Review is listening. The time for change is now.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said it was committed to improving outcomes for those leaving care.

“The current independent care review is examining the whole system in its entirety,” he added, claiming it would look to “transform the wellbeing of children and young people”.