A scholarship fund to encourage more healthcare students to work in addiction support services has been launched.

Which Rehab, an addiction support service, based in Glasgow is funding the £40,000 scheme to help students with tuition and living costs.

James McInally, who founded the online and phone service, said that demand during lockdown has increased and the need for more professionals working in the addiction field is urgent.

He said demand increased as many NHS services had to close during lockdown.

Mr McInally said: “Addiction services have been heavily scaled back by the Government as part of NHS and local authority funding cuts and then most had to shut during lockdown. This came at a time when people with mental health and addiction problems were reaching crisis point due to the pandemic – we struggled to keep up with the threefold increase in enquiries which came from people from all walks of life, every day of the week. When you are an addict, you are already isolated and lockdown made that even worse.”

He added: “We now need more trained people than ever in the addiction recovery field to combat this devastating situation. The scholarship is a way for us to give back to the NHS and we hope long-term it will help to increase the number of students studying in the “helping” professions - particularly those who are struggling to afford to go into higher or further education.”

A recent YouGov survey showed that a quarter of adults reported drinking more during lockdown and 39%, who were previously in recovery for an addiction, had a relapse.

“Nationally, there is an acute shortage of skilled professionals working in addiction services.

“We hope, with additional financial help, that more students will consider addiction support services as a possible career. ”

Annemarie Ward, CEO of Faces and Voices of Recovery, a charity which lobbies for addiction treatment services, said: “There’s a significant shortfall in the number of people with specialist training, who can help the rising number of people with substance use disorders who want help. I hope students who hadn’t previously considered it as a career will see what a difference they could make.”