In 1970, noticing high levels of stress and anxiety in students, a lecturer and a chaplain at Essex University set up the first Nightline, a service running through the night through which trained students provide emotional support and a listening ear to other students. Almost 50 years on, thirty six Nightline branches exist across the UK and Ireland, with over two thousand student volunteers trained to provide this confidential service.
Supported by the Nightline Association charity, Cardiff Nightline currently offers support to students from Cardiff University, Cardiff Met and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama every night during term time between 8pm and 8am. Students from all three of these institutions are invited to join the service as a volunteer during the two annual recruitment drives during October and February.
Five core principles exist at the heart of Nightline’s operation. Volunteers are committed to protecting confidentiality and anonymity, and advice given is non-judgemental, non-advisory and non-directional. These students are at the end of the phone simply to listen to you and offer support, and as Cardiff Nightline’s ‘public face’ Geoff Jukes tells me, ‘no problem is too small.’
Support from the service is not just available over the phone. Cardiff Nightline also runs an instant messaging service between 8pm and midnight during term time for students who would prefer to text than talk. Whether students are suffering from emotional anxiety, academic pressure, or just feel unsafe walking home at night, Nightline volunteers are there to help you anonymously, confidentially and without judgement.
This month, Cardiff Nightline have launched a ‘PostSecret’ campaign, encouraging students to anonymously post their secrets in specially designed Nightline post-boxes around campus. The campaign was inspired by the American website postsecret.com, where strangers share secrets and thoughts that might be weighing them down anonymously by submitting postcards to be published on the site. Cardiff Nightline plan to publish the secrets received on their website (cardiffnightline.co.uk).
There is no fee to join Nightline as a volunteer, and you won’t be expected to answer calls until you have received full training. As well as basic training, volunteers are invited to take part in extra instructional sessions from organisations such as Cardiff’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre and ASIST (suicide awareness training). You can apply online during their next recruitment drive in February, and, if successful you’ll be invited to an interview with the committee, followed by a three day training event.
Although the service is funded through the University, volunteers are unpaid for the service they provide, and Nightline welcomes donations through its JustGiving page. Your money will go towards training, maintenance of phones and computers, and promotional materials to ensure as many students as possible are aware of the organisation and how it can help them.
Whatever issues you may be having, Nightline is one of many services at Cardiff that exists to support you. Call them on 02920 870555 or visit their website to access their instant messaging service.