We spoke to the people behind Nightline, and what they do is great

But who are they?

Let's face it. They are anonymous, they are confidential and they are a student-run service. We know that they are available every night of term, but why?

Yep, I’m talking about Nightline. You’ve got their blue pen, you’ve posed with the whiteboard outside the Billy B. But who are they? What do they actually do? Is it true that you can only call them when you’re drunk and depressed?

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Well never fear lads – I sat down with the director herself and asked her all the things you’ve been burning to know about her job role and the organisation itself.

When and why did you decide to join Nightline?

I joined Nightline in my first year after attending a training weekend. I had gone along because I was on my college welfare team and thought it would be really helpful, but I actually had no intentions of volunteering.

After going to the weekend, I realised that I could help support fellow students when they most needed it by really listening to them to ensure that they felt heard.

Why is it that we can know who you are but the rest of the volunteers are anonymous?

In an ideal world, all of our volunteers would be anonymous so that as many people as possible feel comfortable contacting the service without being afraid that they’re going to know the person on the other end. But to publicise the service we need some ‘public faces’: Director, Vice-Director, Publicity Officer, and Training Officer.

These 4 public faces mean that we can hold publicity events (such as our Nightline Awareness Week which took place in November last year), and by putting on events like this, we’re able to reach students who before might not have considered using us or even heard about us. It also allows us to run our training weekends and provide training to Freps, and to student groups such as SCA and DUCK.

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In your opinion, why should people call/message NL?

I think there’s quite a misconception that you have to be suicidal or in great mental distress to contact us. But in reality, you can contact us about anything at all, whether that be because you are feeling suicidal or simply because you fancy a chat.

So I would say that people should call or message us if they feel as though they don’t have anyone else to talk to in that moment. We’re there every night of term, 9 pm to 7 am, so no matter what time, it’s not an inconvenience at all!

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Have you ever recognised anyone on a phone call?

I don’t think so. It’s quite strange when you’re on a phone with someone because people’s voices can sound so different! I’ve spoken to people before and they’ve sounded exactly like a few of my friends, but because of things said I’ve known it’s not them.

Have you ever met someone you've helped?

Who knows? Even in my role as a public face, when it comes to taking calls, I’m still just another anonymous volunteer at the other end.

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What is your best memory of Nightline?

Being short-listed for best student group of the year at the Students' Union awards last summer. Although we didn’t win, it was really wonderful to have all our hard work, and the value of the service we offer, recognised.

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What's the best thing about being a director?

I think the best thing is being able to take a lead in shaping the organisation both internally and externally, feeling as though I’m taking steps to improve various aspects so that we can offer the best support service to students as possible.

I also love hearing from students at publicity events about how great they think the service is or that they personally have had a really positive experience using us. Knowing that I’m part of a student group that can so benefit students is something I’m constantly proud of. I also feel really honoured to lead such a fab group of volunteers.

If you could say one thing to all the people you've listened to, what would you say?

That I feel really really privileged to have been able to be there with them at a time when they didn’t feel like there was anyone else they could talk to. I think that’s something really special.

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How do you become a volunteer?

In order to become a volunteer, you need to come along to one of our training weekends and then complete our interview process. We host a training weekend each term and this term’s will be on the 27th and 28th January.

If you’re interested in coming along, the sign-up link can be found on our Facebook page, @DurhamNightline, or alternatively you can drop us an email at [email protected] and we can direct you to the page or answer any further questions you have.

Even if you don’t want to volunteer, you can still sign up for the weekend to learn more about active listening and hear a variety of talks on various issues such as sexual violence, eating distress, and identity.

Do you have any snazzy tips for an aspiring volunteer?

It sounds a bit strange, but I think focussing on actually listening helps so much. Once you stop worrying about what you’re about to say and properly listen to what the other person is saying and respond based on that, active listening (the type of listening we do) makes a lot more sense and is a lot easier.

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Nightline is a student-run listening service open every night of term between 9pm and 7am. You can find their number on the back of your Campus Card, on your DUO homepage, or you can contact them through Instant Messenger on their website.

All Durham University students are welcome to contact them, whether you are an undergrad, postgrad, exchange, part-time, or a year-abroad student.