All Night, All Term, All Ears: An Interview With a Nightline Volunteer

Hi! So, you’re a Nightline volunteer- which means you’re anonymous! Is it difficult to maintain your anonymity?

I’m not actually an anonymous volunteer. Out of all the Nightline volunteers, there are 4 public faces: the director, vice-director, publicity officer (me) and training officer. Before I was publicity though, it was sometimes difficult to remain anonymous because people question where you are or why you can’t go out that night. One person did know, and that was so that I could have someone to help me with general anonymity and so that not everyone was potentially worried that I was out all night without telling anyone where I was.

How would you explain Nightline to someone who hasn’t heard of you before?

We’re a group of students who wait by the phone to listen to anything you want to talk about. We aren’t there to judge, or tell you what to do, we’re here to listen to your issues and your problems and talk you through the options you have, always leaving you with the autonomy to choose.

You’re up from 9pm-7am- how do you get through the night?

Every volunteer has their own technique. For me, I don’t drink caffeine other than when I’m on duty, so one coffee or one Redbull at about 1 or 2am sorts me out for the entire night.

What sort of calls do you guys take?

It varies hugely, there are so many different topics that could be discussed. We’re trained to be ready to pick up a call about absolutely anything, ranging from a chat on a person’s way home, to serious mental health issues and everything in between.

What’s the difference between Nightline and the counselling service or welfare?

We aren’t a counselling service, we aren’t here to judge, to advise or to fix, so in those respects we differ from the counselling service. In relation to Welfare, we are all active listeners but Welfare have the ability to signpost which we don’t do. But the more obvious distinction is that we are an anonymous and confidential service. No one other than the volunteer you talk to will ever know the content of that conversation. You won’t know who we are and we won’t know who you are, so there is no fear of bumping into someone you have told confidential information.

How does volunteering affect you?

Personally, there are good and bad times- but the good massively outweighs the bad. It can be emotionally toiling at times, you can take some really difficult calls topic wise. But there are more often times where once you’re off the phone you know you’ve been there for someone and it’s really heart-warming. Sometimes there is also a simple display of gratitude from the caller and it really shows me that what I am doing is worthwhile.

If I want to volunteer for Nightline how can I get involved?

Sign up for one of our training weekends. They take place once a term. To find out exact dates, like our Facebook page and further details will be posted closer to the time of sign up release. They tend to be oversubscribed so if you don’t get onto a training weekend, please do try again next term.

How can I get in touch?

There are 2 ways. Messaging us on our IM system found at durhamnightline.com or calling us. Our number is on the back of your campus card, on DUO or the keyrings given out in packs and at freshers. Call or message any night of term 9pm-7am.

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