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It is well-known that university can be a stressful time for those who have never been away from home, or those who simply are not used to the workload and responsibility that university life can bring. However, not everybody is aware that there is a wealth of services available to students in need of some guidance or maybe just a friendly voice to listen to late at night. This is why one of the big events on campus that took place in Week Six was the Nightline Awareness Week, which was promoting the Nightline services available at Lancaster University and inviting students to participate in a range of activities.
Helen Bull, the service director of the Lancaster branch, said of the service’s history: “the first Nightline was started in Essex in 1970, with Lancaster following suit […] starting in October 1971”.
The Nightline Association aims to support existing Nightline services, which have now spread throughout many universities in the UK, and also allows new services to get started – the newest being at Dundee University. Bull said, “originally we were referred to as the ‘Friendly Night Owls’, although now our more recognisable mascot is Nelly Nightline, our huggable elephant”. Indeed, Nelly Nightline has been gallivanting around Alexandra Square most of the week hugging passers-by and ushering them into taking part.
On Monday, students were encouraged to speak up and give anonymous messages to the publicity team; on Tuesday, Nelly was out taking photos with fans, and on Wednesday the messages shared earlier in the week were typed up and posted on the Nightline wall for all to read. This latter action underscored a core objective from across the week, which was to change people’s minds about what the service does. Thursday saw the Nightline team heading away from the Square and spreading the word on social media, and on Friday students were again encouraged to write messages on the Nightline wall about what sort of calls they would expect to receive.
Nightline is a volunteer-based service and relies on students to get involved where they can – be it working anonymously on the telephones listening to people or working as part of the publicity team spreading the word. Bull emphasised that “if you’re thinking of joining Nightline, there is a ‘register of interest’ page on our website, where you can leave your name and contact details […] We’ll send you more information about our Lent Training schedule, and how you can apply”.
The official website (http://nightline.lusu.co.uk/) states that they “aim to provide a night-time contact point between 10pm-8am, offering a wealth of free information relevant to students, or just a non-judgemental listening ear”, and Bull reiterated this tenet, saying that Nightline strives to achieve five key principles: “confidentiality, anonymity, non-judgementalism, non-directivism and empathy”. Not only that, but she stressed that “having someone anonymous to talk to can be really useful – especially if there is something that you might be struggling to tell someone, or that you want to say, but you don’t know how to”.
Nightline can be contacted either via campus extension number 94444, or from any other telephone on 01524 59 44 44.
Whether you are interested in volunteering your time, or you need somebody to talk to, remember that Nightline is a friendly, approachable service and always there for you, in any way you need.