A SPECIALIST eating disorders charity has expanded its services as the pandemic sees more and more Scots seek help.

Calls to the Scottish helpline run by the Beat charity have shot up by more than 160% in a year. The change refers to the period between April and October, compared with the same six months in 2019.

That demand is predicted to rise again as Christmas nears and Covid restrictions continue.

The 30-year-old charity says the pandemic has been "particularly challenging" for those affected by eating disorders.

Factors include changes to treatment plans and lack of access to support networks.

Loss of routine is also said to be driving an increase in need as those affected grapple with the upheaval.

The imposition of Level 4 restrictions over swathes of Scotland means the organisation is readying itself for continued high demand.

Emma Broadhurst, its national officer for Scotland, said: "It’s not surprising to see such a large increase in people reaching out for help, especially now with extra worries about restrictions over Christmas.

"Recovery from an eating disorder can be challenging enough without the added pressures of a pandemic, but we know it is still absolutely possible and will be here to support anyone wanting extra help for however long they need us."

Beat is now offering a free Zoom-based Coping with Christmas course designed for those who have been caring for someone with anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder for less than five years.

The training sets out to "empower carers and equip them with the skills to support someone with an eating disorder over the festive period, so that they feel more in control and less overwhelmed". Carers will also hear from other families who have been in similar situations.

For more information visit www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk.