What to Expect


We want to give you the best possible service. Calling a helpline can be scary, so this section lets you know what to expect and hopefully eases any worries you have.


Absolutely. Any and all details of phone calls and instant messenger chats are kept confidential. We do not hold any of your personal information and we do not discuss any of our calls. Volunteers will never ask for personal details from you. However, there are exceptional circumstances when these principles don’t apply; for details and exceptions, please see our Privacy and Confidentiality Policy.

There are always two volunteers present during a call. One volunteer will be receiving your call, speaking and listening to you, whilst the other is listening to the call via earpiece. Having a second volunteer present is crucial to us providing quality control for our service, and also enables us to support our volunteers. The second (listening) volunteer will not be able to speak during your call. Your call will never be recorded.

We take every call or chat individually which means that we cannot discuss the content of previous calls, even if they claim to be from the same caller. If a caller has contacted Nightline previously, they should not expect our volunteers to know what has already been discussed but should instead give a brief summary of relevant thoughts at the start of the call.


Whilst we endeavour to reach all our calls, as a volunteer run service, on busy nights we sometimes do not have the capacity to reach all calls. We are always working on ways to improve this so please do not be disheartened if we do not answer your call the first time, we may be busy taking another call. We will never knowingly miss a call or hang up. If we do abruptly hang up, this may be due to a fault in the line or the network — please call back as soon as you can.

Limits of Service

Nightline is not an advice line, so we cannot provide you with any advice. We are here to listen. A volunteer can provide you with information, if requested, such as taxi numbers, exam times, business opening hours, contact information for health services, etc. If you do request information, we will keep you on the line while we search for your request. Very rarely, we may ask you to call back if it is taking our volunteers longer than expected to locate a suitable resource.

There are no time limits on call duration. Our volunteers will listen for as little or as long as you like. If a call has been silent for some time, the volunteer may end the call (or IM chat), in case of a connection fault. If this happens by mistake, please do not hesitate to call back.

If a caller feels that their own life is at imminent risk for any reason, they may request for our volunteer to call for help on their behalf. This is the only situation where a call can be placed on behalf of a caller. In this situation, the volunteer will need some identifying details from the caller to pass on to emergency services. These details will not be passed on to any other individuals or recorded by our volunteers in any way and will only be used for the purpose of dispatching an ambulance to an accurate location.

Yes, we are a listening service and are available to listen to you talk about anything, no matter how big or small you feel it is. We have some policies in place to protect our volunteers from calls that are manipulative, abusive, or excessively detailed. We will give a warning explaining which of these policies are being breached, but if the caller continues to act in this way the call will be terminated. Under no circumstance will we accept calls in which the caller is masturbating.

As a non-judgemental service, we generally will avoid labelling callers in any way. We do however have two exceptions to this. Where a caller seems to be broaching the topics of rape or suicide we may introduce these terms before the caller has used them themselves. This is because our research has shown that in these circumstances it is helpful to broach the subject with these words. If you ask us to avoid these terms we will be happy to do so. Please note we may not necessarily use the legal definition of rape but use the term to refer to non-consensual sexual acts.

Volunteer response

You may immediately notice that our volunteers speak in a slow and quiet voice on phone calls. They do this to provide a soothing and neutral tone throughout the conversation, and to act as a calming influence for any distressed callers. If you prefer, or if you are struggling to hear them, our volunteers are more than happy to speak a little louder on request.

All responses are thought and typed out by the volunteers taking the call. Two volunteers will work together when responding to an online chat. We work hard to support you as best we can, but please understand that, due to our commitment to being non-directional, and because we are here to listen and support you without giving advice, you may occasionally feel that Instant Messenger can seem a little robotic. Whenever and however you contact us, you are always speaking to a real volunteer.