Celebrating 50 Years Of Nottingham Nightline

Holly Philpott

If, during your time at university, you’ve taken a closer look at your student ID card and seen the number of ‘Nottingham Nightline’, you may have wondered what this mysterious phone number can lead to. Perhaps you’ve searched up Nightline and done a bit of reading from the SU website, or visited the Instagram page; perhaps you may have used the service at one point during your degree. This year, Nottingham Nightline is celebrating an important anniversary, and we want you to be a part of it. If you’re intrigued, want to learn more about the service and find out how to get involved, then this is the ideal article for you to scroll through!

In 1970, a professor and chaplain at the University of Essex became aware of increasing levels of stress, anxiety and suicide rates amongst students. One reason they believed this may have been the case was because these students didn’t have a support network, that is, they didn’t have someone to talk to about their situation. That same year, a group of students were trained to deliver emotional support to others and opened an anonymous phone service for students, operating at the edge of the University of Essex’s campus. This very phone service was the seed for what we now know as Nightline, a confidential and non-advisory listening service, which has since grown exponentially. As of 2023, there are Nightlines operating at over thirty universities, striving to provide emotional care and support to over 1.5 million students. 

Our key motto is ‘We’ll listen, not lecture’

Nottingham Nightline was founded in 1973 and since then, we’ve aimed to provide the best service possible to everyone who needs to talk to someone, whether this be on the phone, over an Instant Messaging service, or by email. It’s evident that a service like Nightline is valued by students, not just from 1973 onwards but especially in the last three years since the Covid pandemic began; 2020 saw a turbulent start to the decade, plunging many students’ lives into worry for a multitude of reasons and bringing the world to a standstill. Nightline remained an important part of Nottingham’s welfare system more than ever before, as mental health amongst students became a more current discussion. Despite coming through the bulk of the pandemic, though, it hasn’t slowed down how many students use the service. During 2022 alone, 1755 calls were taken by Nightline overall. This, without a doubt, highlights how vital the service is as a branch of the University’s well-being system. 

What’s especially unique about Nightline is that it’s completely run by students, who volunteer to train up and take calls from those who need to discuss what’s on their mind; without the incredible work that anonymous volunteers put into training and taking calls, Nightline would be nowhere near the service it is today.

It’s already been mentioned that Nightline is confidential and non-advisory, but it’s also non-judgemental and non-directive. These words all sound rather intimidating, but what do they actually mean? In essence, Nightline’s service isn’t about giving you advice on something, nor is it prepared to share information about call content. Instead, Nightline allows the caller to talk about what they want, without any fear of being judged or advised. Our key motto is ‘We’ll listen, not lecture’, and that’s exactly what we aim to do with every call we take. Whether you have something on your mind, or you’re concerned about your mental health, or you’d even just like to chat with someone at night time, volunteers are there to listen to you as long as you need.

Above all, we’ve done our best to keep lines open and be there for students who need us

If you’ve looked at the dates of when our Nightline first opened up to now, then you may have realised something special about this year: it’s Nottingham Nightline’s fiftieth anniversary! It seems especially important to celebrate now post-pandemic, reflecting on fifty years of supporting students when they need it and bringing people together during recent years, when lives had to go on pause due to Covid. As Nightline’s current Marketing Officer, I’m so happy to share what our committee has been doing behind the scenes, not just for the anniversary but in this academic year as a whole, to raise awareness of the service and the ways in which it’s helped so many students.

Since the start of the academic year, we’ve run many fundraising events such as bake sales, a fun run in October 2022 and collaborations with other societies. This includes collecting food for a food bank and distributing well-being gift bags with Neurosoc and Headucate during Nightline Awareness Week last November, delivering active listening talks to groups such as Medics Football, and most recently holding a ‘Design a Tote Bag’ competition for the upcoming anniversary with Art Society. Patch the bear has also been on many outings, giving out free hugs and being at stalls to share what Nightline is all about. Above all, we’ve done our best to keep lines open and be there for students who need us.

For the upcoming anniversary, we’ve got many things planned, including:

  • Attending the Mooch Live Night on the 30th March – we’ll be drawing and enjoying the live music, as well as holding a raffle! Prizes include Doughnott’s and Pudding Pantry vouchers, so why not get involved?
  • There’ll also be a very exciting scavenger hunt across University Park and Jubilee Campuses, between the 27th and 31st March- we’ll be hiding five boxes with some Nightline goodies inside, and if you find one, you can take a photo of you with the box and send it to our Instagram to be able to take a prize! We may also have an Easter treat to give you as well…
  • As well as this, you can pre-order a Nightline tote bag now, which has been designed by the winner of the Art Society competition we held recently! The link for this, as well as pre-buying raffle tickets, is in the Linktree of our Instagram (@nottinghamnightline)

Above all, we hope the fiftieth anniversary highlights how valued Nottingham Nightline is, and raises awareness of the amazing dedication our volunteers have to being there for those who need someone to talk to. We’re so excited for the week ahead and can’t wait to celebrate fifty years of Nightline at UoN, so why not join in?  

Phone- 0115 951 4985 (open every night 7pm-8am)

Instant Messaging service- can be found on nottinghamnightline.co.uk (open every night 7pm-8am)

Email- nightlineanon@nottingham.ac.uk (open every day of the year 24/7)

Holly Philpott

Featured image courtesy of Holly Philpott and the Nottingham Nightline team. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

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