Nightlines are student-run listening and information services, open at night when other services on campus may be closed.
Every night of term, student volunteers all over the UK answer calls, texts, instant messages and talk in person with their fellow university students about anything that is troubling them.
Each Nightline service is independent but they all follow five core principles:
- Confidential – what callers discuss with Nightline volunteers will not be shared outside of Nightline.
- Anonymous – callers don’t have to give any identifying details about themselves.
- Non-judgmental – Nightline volunteers don’t judge, and will support callers through whatever it is they’re going through.
- Non-directional – callers decide what they want to talk about and the Nightline volunteer gives them a safe space to do this.
- Non-advisory – Nightline gives the caller space to make their own decisions, and supports them in this rather than telling them what to do. “We’ll listen, not lecture.”
The Nightline Association was established in 2006 as an umbrella charity to support, promote and develop university Nightline services.
For every student in higher and further education to have access to the support offered by Nightline services so that:
- every student is able to talk about their feelings in a safe, non-judgmental environment;
- fewer students have their education compromised by emotional difficulties;
- fewer students die by suicide.
To raise the quality, profile, availability, and accessibility of Nightline services so that every student is aware of, and has access to, confidential emotional peer support, as well as the opportunity to volunteer for a Nightline.
What’s the difference?
Nightline services work on the frontlines; they are our student volunteers answering calls and offering a listening ear. They are operational.
The Association works on a more strategic level; supporting new set-ups, developing external relationships, overseeing our Good Practice Guidelines accreditation, maintaining our IT services and representing the student voice. We host events every year which offer training and networking opportunities for our affiliated services, as well as host our Council and AGM sessions.
The history of Nightline
Nightline began in May 1970, when Prof. Geoffrey Hosking and Rev. Malcolm France became aware of the high levels of stress, anxiety and suicide amongst students at University of Essex. They believed that these issues were exacerbated by students not having someone to talk to. Prof Hosking, who was a lecturer at the University and a member of Colchester Samaritans, and Rev France, the University Chaplain and former Samaritans Director, trained a group of students to deliver emotional support to their peers over the phone. The first ever Nightline shift was on May 7th, 1970 in a disused hut (with no toilets) at the edge of the university campus.
In the years that followed, numerous Nightlines were set up across the country with the aim of reducing the number of students that died by suicide and offering support when other services were closed. In order to facilitate communication between the Nightlines and organise a yearly conference, a ‘national Nightline’ was nominated on a yearly basis, who organised central activities for that year.
In 2006, The Nightline Association was created, set up as a charity charged with the responsibility of taking over the centralising support for and enabling cooperation between Nightlines. By bringing together volunteers from all over the country, the charity is well equipped to offer the expertise needed to unite the numerous Nightlines across the whole of the UK.
The Association, while volunteer-led, is now a professional body, able to support, develop and promote Nightlines on both a local and a national level. Almost all Association volunteers come from local Nightlines. The charity is member-controlled, with each Nightline getting a say in how the Association operates through their elected Regional Coordinator and at conferences.
Through the Good Practice Guidelines scheme, the Association ensures that the Nightline standard is protected and upheld. By ensuring all Nightlines are accredited, the Association is able to guarantee a level of professionalism across the board, meaning the Nightline name is able to be universally recognised as the gold standard in student-led emotional support.