City Road addiction service launches £40,000 scholarship fund after coronavirus lockdown trebled numbers seeking help

Managing director of Which Rehab, James McInally. Picture: Which Rehab

Managing director of Which Rehab, James McInally. Picture: Which Rehab - Credit: Which Rehab

A Shoreditch addiction and rehab advice service has launched a £40,000 scholarship fund to boost therapist numbers, after the coronavirus lockdown prompted a record amount of enquiries.

James McInally, the managing director of Which Rehab, a national 24-hour addiction freephone and online service whose HQ is in City Road, wants to encourage people to pursue careers in addiction support after witnessing first hand the spiralling number of people seeking help.

According to a YouGov national poll, it is estimated that nearly 700,000 people in the UK need addiction treatment because of lockdown. A quarter of adults reported drinking more during lockdown and 39 per cent who were previously in recovery for an addiction, had a relapse.

Which Rehab’s scholarship scheme will give £2,000 to two new recipients every year for the next decade. James 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.”

James, a recovering alcoholic and single parent, added: “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. “Nationally, there is an acute shortage of skilled professionals working in addiction services. During lockdown, when demand was highest, our trained telephone counsellors regularly had to work extra shifts to answer calls to the advice line, which were non-stop. And calls, depending on the individual caller, can last hours, to enable us to provide the correct support and advice that people need.”