When Cambridge Nightline opened earlier this month, it marked the 48th consecutive academic year since its founding in 1972 that the service opened to provide a listening ear to students within the city. Although much has changed, both within the city and the organisation over those 48 years, the service that Nightline aims to provide has remained the same. Volunteers from Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Cambridge provide support and a safe space for students to speak about whatever’s on their mind. From 7pm-7am every night during term time, volunteers listen – over phone, instant message, and email – giving their peers an opportunity to talk through whatever might be on their mind. Overall, Nightline seeks to relieve the emotional difficulties of students in the city and support the mental health and wellbeing of the wider community.
Nightline operates on a number of principles that help them to achieve this aim. The organisation’s commitment to confidentiality and anonymity mean that callers can share whatever they’d like, without worrying about their identity being known or anything that they say being passed on. Everything that callers say to Nightline is heard in complete confidence. Nightline also works on principles of non-judgmentality and non-directivity. This means that volunteers listen to callers without judging or lecturing them, and without trying to tell callers what to do. Instead, callers are given a dedicated and supportive environment to think things through themselves.
In the run-up to World Mental Health Day, on October 10th, we spoke to a number of Nightline volunteers about what made them start volunteering for the service and what it is about it that they find rewarding. There are a huge number of reasons why people start volunteering for Nightline. For some, the emphasis on improving mental health aligns with their interests in their studies or career aspirations. For some, it’s the fact that they’ve had first-hand experience of the importance of having their thoughts and problems listened to and want to help other people access the same sort of support. Whatever originally motivated them, volunteers agree that the chance to give back to the communities of the universities and the city more generally and to help their fellow students, is a very positive and rewarding experience. A number of volunteers shared with us, anonymously, their specific reasons for volunteering.
A number of volunteers also mentioned that they feel the organisation’s work is especially important right now, in a time that’s proving more stressful and difficult than usual for many, perhaps especially for many students. It’s for this reason that Cambridge Nightline is continuing to provide its usual services right now and to offer support to students in the city. So that it can continue to do this, Cambridge Nightline is looking for new volunteers.
After a training weekend that ensures all trainees have the skills and confidence to volunteer, new volunteers are ready to listen to and support service users, and become part of the Nightline community, a large and friendly group of volunteer students around the city. If you are interested in volunteering with Nightline, more information can be found on our website at https://cambridge.nightline.ac.uk/volunteer.html or you can email email@example.com to discuss the role further.
To apply to be a volunteer for Cambridge Nightline, please complete the online applciation form here https://forms.gle/TEeVhHdtkr6d4e8p7
The deadline to apply is Tuesday 20th October.