Comment Writer Luke Wheeler interviews Nightline about this year’s Nightline Awareness Week

Written by Luke Wheeler

Every November, Nightline services across the UK and Ireland take part in Nightline Awareness Week (NLAW), aiming to increase students’ knowledge of the service through a whole host of events. In the lead up to this year’s awareness week I sat down with Nightline’s Publicity and Events Officer to talk all things NLAW.

For those who aren’t aware of Nightline, how would you describe it?

NL: Well, Nightline is a confidential listening and information service run by students for students here at UoB, as well as Aston and UCB. The service runs from 8pm until 8am throughout term time. If you want to talk to Nightline you can phone, instant message or email us and even drop in for a face-to-face chat.  

So how did Nightline come about?

NL: Nightline started in 1970 at the University of Essex after staff noticed the distress that students were experiencing and the lack of peer-to-peer support for them. They trained the first student volunteers and since then the Nightline family has grown to 36 Nightlines across the UK and Ireland, covering roughly one and a half million students.

Why would you say Nightline is important?

NL: Nightline is important because it’s there when other services aren’t. We provide students with someone to talk to throughout the night if they feel they want to get something off their chest, no matter how big or small. If students need information we can provide that to them as well. The service is completely non-judgemental and non-advisory, so it provides an important place for students to be listened to when they need to talk without fear of judgement.  

What would you say to students who’ve thought about contacting the service?

NL: I’d say it’s just like talking to any other student. You don’t have to be in crisis, and there’s no need to be nervous, our aim is to create a supportive atmosphere where students feel comfortable talking to us about whatever is on their mind without making it a big deal.

You don’t have to be in crisis, and there’s no need to be nervous

How can people support the service?

NL: The power of word of mouth shouldn’t be underestimated, please tell your friends about the service – they may never use it but I feel that knowing it’s there is also really important. Following us on social media also helps increase our reach and means that people can keep up to date with what we’re doing. Students can also support us by becoming volunteers, we have two training intakes each year. We also appreciate any and all fundraising support, we’ll have a whole load of events throughout awareness week as well as later on in the year to help raise money. 

What does it take to be a Nightline volunteer?

NL: Anyone can be a NL volunteer, you don’t have to have any experience, just a willingness to learn. We do two weekends of intensive training in active listening so that volunteers feel prepared to go on shifts, it’s a great way to get to know people. Once you’ve trained I’d say the reward of going on shift and knowing that you’ve been there for people helps drive your enthusiasm.

What is Nightline Awareness Week (NLAW)?

NL: NLAW is a week of events to raise awareness of Nightline and what it offers. This year it’s running from the 18th to the 24th of November and is themed around appreciation. We’re aiming to have a diverse range of events so that as many people as possible can engage with who we are and what we do. We really want to emphasise that it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been at uni or what you’re studying, Nightline is there for you regardless.

We really want to emphasise that it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been at uni or what you’re studying

What has Birmingham Nightline got lined up this year?

NL: We’re still adding the finishing touches, but we’ve got tonnes of things lined up. We’re looking to host a debate with some of the other welfare groups here at UoB and we’ll be running social media campaigns throughout the week. We’ll also be out at Aston and UCB, as well as creating a feel good playlist to help people engage in some self care. If you want to help us raise some funds, we’re also aiming to host a quiz on the Friday evening. Please follow our social media to keep an eye on when things are and pop along and say hello!

What’s the one thing you wish people knew about Nightline?

NL: In terms of the service, I wish people were aware of the fact we have drop-ins from 8 until midnight, also, I think it’s important that people are aware that they can talk to us about whatever they want no matter how big or small they think it is. On a more personal note, I wish that people knew how deeply volunteers care about the service and their fellow students, I’ve never met such a dedicated group of people before.

They can talk to us about whatever they want no matter how big or small

To keep up with Nightline’s Awareness Week Events, make sure to follow their social media. If you want to know more about the service and find out how to volunteer, go to their website. If you want to contact the service, their number is on the back of student ID cards and all their contact information is available through the my.bham, Aston SU and UCB Guild portals.

Nightline’s Awareness Week takes place between the 18th and 24th of November. 

Twitter: @BhamNightline

Facebook: Birmingham Nightline