(Ring-ring, Ring-ring, Ring-ring)
With 39 Nightline services open across the UK and the Republic of Ireland, and another three in the setup process, the Nightline Association is an extremely busy organisation. Accessed by 120 Higher Education institutions and available to almost 1.6million students, our services collectively answered more than 28,000 calls during the 2017/18 academic year.
In this, our 50th anniversary year, we’re pleased to be named as the charity partner for the Times Higher Education Awards 2020. We hope that through this association we can celebrate the work we’ve already done in the past fifty years, but most importantly expand our reach, enabling us to help even more students at a time when their mental health is an increasingly important issue.
Our local services are open every night of term, staffed by over 2,500 volunteers annually. Our peer support lines are open at night, when other university support services are often closed. All of our services offer a telephone line as a minimum means for students to contact us, but did you know that 90% of our services also offer Instant Messaging? They offer email listening services too – the majority of which stay open during the holidays – and the opportunity to connect via Skype and text. 10% of our services also offer a drop-in, where students can find contraception and pregnancy tests.
We believe that by offering student-led, student-run services, our peer support empowers our service users, breaking down the isolation they may feel stuck in, and strengthening their sense of community. The students who are listening to them on the call share their campus, sit in the same coffee shops, and may even have had the same lecturers. When it comes to exam times, they can support their callers to find the right exam halls; when it comes to a desire for late-night pizza, or someone who is lost, they understand.
We believe peer support also empowers the listener; it can develop their confidence, active listening skills and self-esteem. This often gives our student listeners an education beyond their diplomas, opening further career prospects than they imagined at matriculation. We have a varied alumni network and are proud of the places our volunteers have moved onto, whether in the charity or corporate sector. To be a Nightline volunteer requires a certain grit; it requires a level of training to the point where you are able to remember your policies, your procedures and approaches when you’re woken up at 2am, 3am or 4am by a shrill ringing telephone. It requires true care, and true love for your fellow students; an innate belief that no one should feel alone, and that we are the ones in a position to offer care and support to them.
“You can talk to us about anything.”
Nightlines are information and listening services. We receive calls about academic stress, family relationships, friendships, addictions and loneliness, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. We have seen a significant increase in calls discussing sexual violence and abuse (2014-16 saw an 89% rise), and we’ve since worked with Tender and White Ribbon to offer specialised training to our service volunteers, to strengthen their confidence in responding to such calls. In 2014-16, we also saw a 124% increase in calls discussing suicide and self-harm, and a further 74% increase in 2017-18. We partnered with Charlie Waller Memorial Trust last year to develop a new, bespoke, Nightline-specific suicide calls training package, which we will continue to roll out to our services this year.
To find your local Nightline service, please go to https://www.nightline.ac.uk/want-to-talk/
“We’re here to listen.”