Nightline is a listening, emotional support and information service, run by students, for students.
The first Nightline was founded in 1970, aiming to address high levels of stress, anxiety and suicide amongst local students at Essex University. The idea quickly spread and, in 1973, Edinburgh Nightline was founded. Today there are 36 individual Nightlines in the UK and Ireland, made up of over 2000 specially trained student volunteers. Over 1.5 million higher education students now have access to a confidential, anonymous, non-judgmental, non-directional and non-advisory listening service should they ever need it.
We are proud to have won Nightline of the Year 2012, Best Volunteer Training and Support 2015, Nightline Region of the Year (Scotland) 2016, and Best Volunteer Training 2020.
Today we operate a call service and an instant messenger service, open from 8pm till 8am every night of term. We aim to support students across Edinburgh, with cross-university backing from all five of the Edinburgh-based Higher Education Institutions (University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh College and Heriot-Watt University)
Meet the team 2022/23
The vast majority of our volunteers are anonymous, both for the benefit of our callers and for the welfare of our volunteers. So, who exactly are we? Edinburgh Nightline is made up of around 100 student volunteers from Edinburgh’s five higher education institutions. Our volunteers are from different disciplines and are in various years of both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.
Seven of our committee are what we call public faces. Due to the nature of their work with us they must be able to speak publicly as representatives of Edinburgh Nightline. During the volunteer’s time in this position they don’t take calls. The seven positions fall across four roles: the Coordinators, the Publicity Coordinators, the Training Coordinators, and the Inclusion Coordinator.
The Coordinator role involves overseeing the whole of the committee and society overall. Coordinators are responsible for chairing meetings, managing committee relations, maintaining communication with our stakeholders, liaising with the Nightline Association, and generally keeping up and working to improve the service that we provide. This role often involves individual projects that change depending on the current needs of Nightline and what the coordinators themselves feel would be a impactful step forward.
Ed is a fourth year philosophy student. He enjoys the gym, meditating, reading, and tea and aims to be as chill as those activities would suggest.
The Publicity Coordinators manage publicity for Edinburgh Nightline. Their aim is to make Nightline visible in their campuses through stalls, advertising and events. They publicise our amazing service across Edinburgh! This involves distributing publicity materials such as stickers, posters, flyers and postcards, reaching out to organisations and collaborating with different societies.
The Training Coordinators oversee training within Edinburgh Nightline.
Josh is a maths student and so naturally they love computers, sci-fi, and video games. They also enjoy walks around Arthur’s Seat, diving into a good book, and (in better days) setting the world to rights over a pint.
The Inclusion Coordinator is our first port of call for all minorities issues, both internally and externally. Their role is to help us understand and adapt the way we do things to make sure we’re never excluding anybody. Our Inclusion Coordinator is here to represent minorities, but never to speak for everyone. They’ll be working closely with our entire committee, and our entire society, to make sure that everyone feels seen and heard.
Saif is a psychology student with an avid interest in films and graphic novels. His favourite pastimes include obsessing over cat videos and swimming. If one mentions a series he’s into, he can and will go off about it for ages.
Nightline was founded on six principles which we still adhere to today:
Anything talked through with a caller remains completely private. Discussing calls would be both disrespectful and unprofessional and would undermine the service we aim to provide for our callers. You can read our Privacy and Confidentiality Policy here in Google Docs or as a PDF here.
All of our volunteers are anonymous. Seven public faces represent our service publicly and no longer take calls, but these are the only exceptions to our strict anonymity policy. We do this to ensure that callers aren’t discouraged to call due to fear that someone they know may answer, but also to prevent stereotyping of our volunteers based on one person a caller may know.
The concept of empathy guides everything we do. Empathy, unlike sympathy, is the capability to share and understand another’s feelings without diluting support with pity. We use empathy to listen, not judge or advise, in the hopes that a supportive, neutral ear can help callers sort through their emotions. We also endeavour to support our fellow volunteers, both while on shift and within the organisation generally.
We strongly believe that the role of our listening volunteers is not to let their personal views or opinions influence how they take a call, even when these differ from the caller’s. We are here to listen, not to judge.
Only the caller decides the direction of the call. As Nightliners we can never know the full situation from one contact, and therefore any conclusions we draw may result from misunderstanding. Our volunteers are not qualified to give advice but can offer information and will listen and support for as long as this is needed.
Nightline is a student-run organisation through and through. As such, we require a certain level of sustained involvement from our volunteers to continue running our service.