The confidential and anonymous nature of Niteline can it seem pretty mysterious. We’ve all seen the signs in the bathrooms and taken their free pens but what is Niteline? We’re here to separate fact from fiction.
What is Niteline?
Niteline is a helpline (like the Samaritans or Pieta House) specifically for students of Maynooth University and other colleges in the greater Dublin area. It is a listening and information service so you can ring to talk, or to ask them to look something up for you, or both! Niteline promises to keep calls confidential and to maintain the anonymity of the caller and the volunteers. Niteline volunteers will not judge or advise a caller, they just listen.
How can you contact Niteline?
Niteline offers a freephone service on 1800 793 793 and an instant messaging service at www.niteline.ie. Niteline is open from 9pm until 2.30am every night of term, including during exams and reading weeks (but not during repeats, Christmas or summer holidays).
What’s special about a student helpline?
With Niteline, you are guaranteed that the volunteer you’re speaking to is a student. They may not have had the same experiences as you, but you know you have something in common. There are certain things a student might want to talk about (an awful shift in the Roost, trying to get a free condom without having to look anyone in the eye, failing an exam etc.) that could be a lot less awkward to talk about with another student. Niteline is also unusual in that it offers instant messaging, which some students find less intimidating than a phone call.
What kind of students is Niteline for?
I’ve heard people insist that Niteline only deals with serious mental health issues, or that Niteline doesn’t deal with serious issues at all and is only for academic concerns. The truth is, Niteline is for any student with any issue. Whether you’ve run out of data and need something googled, or you feel you really need to talk about something, that’s what Niteline’s there for. Some common topics include relationships, academic worries, mental health, suicide, abuse, general chat and loneliness.
Who runs Niteline?
There are no secret corporate overlords. Niteline is run by students who have received about 24 hours of training accredited by the Samaritans and who have been rigorously tested on their active listening skills. It is run entirely by volunteers (to get involved, see below) and has absolutely no paid staff.
If it’s run by students, why have I never met a volunteer?
Here comes the cloak and dagger, fog machine bit: Niteline volunteers aren’t allowed to tell people they’re volunteers. Think about it, if you knew someone who volunteered there, wouldn’t you be less likely to call in case the person you know answered? But don’t worry, volunteers also aren’t allowed to take calls from someone they recognise, or from a caller who thinks they recognise the volunteer. They’re also not allowed to discuss the content of the calls outside Niteline’s own support structures for volunteers.
What does it take to be a Niteline volunteer?
Applicants aren’t expected to have any particular kind of experience or training. Niteline is just looking for empathetic, enthusiastic students. A successful applicant will be accepted into Niteline’s training program where they will learn about Niteline’s principles (anonymous, confidential, non-advisory and non-judgemental), active listening and how to deal with some of the harder calls a volunteer may have to take. This training is accredited by the Samaritans and usually takes place over two weekends, in Dublin City Centre. If the applicant passes the test at the end of training, they become a Niteline volunteer and will be expected to volunteer for two shifts a month and attend at least one support session a month (all this also takes place in Dublin).
Want to get involved?
Niteline recruits new volunteers every September and applications are now open at www.niteline.ie until the 23rd of September (Friday of Freshers Week). Apply now if you think you have what it takes!