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 an instant messenger service, open from 8pm till midnight 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 2020/21
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 all 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 three roles: the Coordinator, the Publicity and Networking Coordinators, and the Minority Officer.
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 EUSA and Edinburgh University, liaising with the National 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.
Javi is one of those people that have many stickers on their laptop. He is a camp counselor trapped in the life of an Informatics student. You can find him coding at the Library’s lower-ground or eating at the Mosque Kitchen.
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.
Publicity and Networking Coordinators
The Publicity and Networking Coordinators oversee relations between Nightline and the academic institutions of Edinburgh. 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.
Liz is a LLB student at The University of Edinburgh and is one of our Publicity Coordinators! She enjoys a long walk along the beach, or a cider on The Meadows and Twilight is still her favourite film…
Sara is a 4th year medic with poor taste in music and breakfast food. Greatest achievements include 1st place in the Primary 4 sports day, driving around a three-lane roundabout and making the cheesiest lasagne on earth.
Alexandra is a third year medic who enjoys walks up Blackford Hill, watching Gogglebox, drinking chai tea and chilling with her cat, Mango. Over lockdown, she discovered Dough pizza and is now one of their biggest fans.
The Minority Officer is our 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 Minority Officer 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.
Alex is a second year medic who likes to head out for walks when she’s not busy working on her laptop or contemplating how best to make meaningful changes to organisations to improve people’s experiences.
Lolly is an astrophysics student who loves reading about equality with a strong cup of coffee or whisky! When not raging against the system, she can be found running around the hills or the beach.
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’ and link to PDF version of Privacy and Confidentiality Policy
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.