A MUM-of-one, whose story of racking up £70,000 of debt by betting online has inspired the ITV series Cleaning Up, has called for more support for female gambling addicts.

Kelly Field, from Billinge, became hooked on online bingo and online slot machines after having some time off work due to a bereavement.

She ended up with more than £30,000 debt on credit cards and spent thousands more from her savings, overdrafts and wages before the scale of her problem came to light.

Now her story has inspired the character of Sheridan Smith, who plays an office worker who turns to crime to cover gambling debts in ITV’s Cleaning Up.

Kelly, 36, hopes that the show will highlight how gambling addictions affect women as well as men. She says more needs to be done to tackle the growing problem.

Waitress, Kelly, said: “When the producers got in touch with me 18 months ago I knew I wanted to get involved and share my story because I believe that Sheridan Smith can do a great job as the actress showing how gambling addictions affect women.

“She’s got a huge profile and I hope that this show makes people take notice. If you have an addiction to alcohol or drugs, people know where to signpost you, but if you’re addicted to online gambling people like to say ‘Why don’t you just stop’ and it’s not as easy as that. Maybe the reason it affects women differently is the growing pressures on women now as working women. It becomes a kind of escapism.

When you’re online and you put your card details in, it’s not like real money, and you can convince yourself it’s just numbers and I’d try to win back the money I lost. I didn’t tell anyone because I was embarrassed and ashamed.”

Eventually, Kelly told her partner and sought counselling for addiction. But on the first appointment she claims her counsellor never turned up – leading to more years of addiction.

She added: “I saw an advert in the St Helens Star for Beacon Counselling Trust and from there I got the help I needed. I hope everyone will watch the show and think about how people can find themselves in those situations.”