Who will I be speaking to?

You’ll be speaking to another Durham University student. All Nightline volunteers undergo extensive and regular training and have been selected for their ability to provide non-judgemental and non-advisory listening.

What if I’m concerned the volunteer will recognise my voice?

Our service is completely confidential, so anything you say stays between you and the volunteer you’ve spoken to. If you feel hesitant to use our phone service, our online messaging service is also available. There is no way that a volunteer would be able to recognise you using this. While over 300 people attend our training every year, this does not qualify them to volunteer for Nightline as they must also be successful at interview. On average only 40 students volunteer for Nightline. If in the unlikely event that you recognise a volunteer you are more than welcome to ask to speak to the other volunteer. We always have two volunteers available throughout the night, and additionally, two reserve volunteers.

Why don’t you give advice?

Whilst we recognise the value of advice there are various reasons why we do not give it. Typically you’d expect to receive advice if you went to a friend or family member to discuss an issue, and we provide something fundamentally different: We believe that giving advice to a caller is difficult as we are neither health professionals nor are we aware of the entire context of each individual caller’s personal situation. Receiving advice can also take the power and control away from a caller. Often the ‘answer’ (if there is one!) isn’t obvious, or it might suddenly become clear days later. We hope that by allowing callers to chat through anything they’re feeling, without judgements or assumptions being placed on them, thoughts might become a bit clearer. If you are looking solely for advice you may find that Nightline, as with many other welfare services, is not for you. Of course though, we do have information we can provide you with if you’d like.

Can I talk to a volunteer about suicide?

Of course. We aim to provide a confidential, non-directive, non-advisory, and non-judgmental listening service for all callers. You can talk to our volunteers about anything you may be feeling. If a volunteer believes that a caller has attempted to end their life, we will ask them if they would like an ambulance. If the caller expresses explicit wishes for an ambulance to be called on their behalf, the Nightline volunteer would ask for relevant details and pass those onto the emergency services, staying with the caller for as long as they wish.

Why not try to persuade a suicidal caller to receive an ambulance?

We hope to provide a confidential space in which callers can discuss anything they wish without fear of action being taken. Volunteers will always respect the caller’s wishes and we want callers to be free from the concern that a volunteer would be influencing them in any way. Nightline volunteers regularly receive training from mental health professionals on how best to respond to a caller who is feeling suicidal. A volunteer will always ask a caller who has taken suicidal action whether they would like to receive an ambulance.Suicidal feelings vary hugely from person to person, but they can be felt in response to fears or expectations about the future, and/or based on past experiences. Throughout all calls of any nature, volunteers will listen to a caller and explore their feelings, expectations, worries, and experiences that the caller wishes to. We believe that it is important for a suicidal caller to be given that same opportunity to discuss this with someone, and that through the comfort of a listening-ear there may be a chance that the caller may feel less alone. We respect the choices of every caller and provide unconditional support and listening. As such, we would never actively attempt to persuade a caller not to attempt suicide, as this implies that we understand their situation better than them and believe that what they are feeling is ‘wrong’. For this reason we would also not break confidentiality to divulge a caller’s personal details to the emergency services without their consent. Our policy on suicide is in line with the Suicide Act of 1961 and meets industry standards of practice.

Do you have a policy to protect children?

We aim to provide an environment in which any caller may feel able to talk freely without fear of personal information being passed on. However, the protection of vulnerable children overrides this principle. Where a volunteer confidently believes that a caller has revealed information that suggests a child (an individual under the age of 18) is at future risk of significant harm or exploitation (physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect) by another person, it is Nightline’s policy to report this to the police. Consent shall not be required from the caller in this instance.

Does Nightline record any information about its callers?

We would never record any personal or identifying details of a caller. However, we do keep very limited contact statistics, which include the number of times we have been contacted in any given night, the length and time of a call and a one word description of the nature of the call such as “information” or “friendships”. We record these details to ensure that volunteers receive adequate training.

Do you provide any information?

We provide both a confidential listening service as well as an information service. Volunteers have information on an array of things, including sexual or mental health, taxi numbers, contact details for college officers and takeaway numbers, amongst others. We attempt to keep this information as relevant and up-to-date as possible.

English is not my first language, Can I still contact Nightline?

Our volunteers will do their best, whatever your level of English. Do not be afraid to take your time, or to use instant messaging if you feel more confident writing. If you feel you would like to speak to someone in another language, you can find some numbers below. Please note though that we hold no affiliation with the organisations listed below. Opening times vary, so we recommend you visit their websites before calling. Japanese0207 287 5493 GermanNightline Dresdennightline-dresden.de MandarinLifeline Shanghai0216 279 8990 FrenchS.O.S Amiti0140 091 522 SpanishTelefono de la Esperanza902500002 If the language you wish to communicate in is not listed here, please contact nightline@durham.ac.uk to ask for the helpline numbers which operate in your chosen language.

Does Nightline have a complaints procedure?

Yes, please see the Policies page.