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London Nightline is a helpline that provides confidential listening, support and information to students throughout the night. One of Nightline’s volunteers, also a UCL student, spoke to us about their volunteering experience. Due to the nature of the volunteering role, the volunteer has remained anonymous.

I first heard about London Nightline in 2017 and I always thought it seemed like a good resource for students. As you know, student mental health is a prevalent issue and I wanted to help others who were going through difficult times. My role as a hotline volunteer is to take calls from students who want to talk to someone. All hotline volunteers are also university students, so it’s more familiar and comfortable to chat to someone like that.

London Nightline is essentially a listening service, not an advice service, and callers can talk freely to us. Volunteers receive training on active listening, as listening well isn’t as easy as you think! You receive around three weeks’ worth of training on active listening, responding to situations and being an appropriate conversation partner. In this role you don’t give advice or prescribe what to do, rather you help the callers reach their own solution if they have a specific problem. There is a screening process to make sure you’re able to be a suitable helpline volunteer, as there’s a difference between having a conversation with a friend where you may not be fully aware of what you’re saying, compared to being a hotline volunteer where you need to conduct yourself differently. As we are a confidential service, we may not know the entire story from our callers, so it’s best to not make assumptions about the caller or jump to conclusions about the situation.

As a Hotline volunteer, I was expected to work around twelve night shifts throughout the year. Although the hours may seem intimidating, I was not alone on the shift. I also had other team members to provide support and there’s a dedicated person within the team to make sure volunteers are doing okay. They really care about your well-being, and as the saying goes, “It’s important to look after yourself first before you help others”. As a helpline volunteer, I work with other students in London, so I have a great support system.

 I’d say one of my favourite things about volunteering with London Nightline is when I receive a call from someone who is distressed, but throughout our call I am able to help them feel a lot more relaxed about why they were initially calling – it’s such a rewarding feeling!

Volunteering with London Nightline is a really enriching experience. If you are looking to gain experience or want to boost your CV – this is definitely a unique opportunity as you receive a lot of training – especially when it comes to interpersonal skills.

Sometimes as a university student in London, it’s easy to feel like you’re isolated and going through things alone, but as a hotline volunteer, it’s shown me that other people can empathise and understand where you’re coming from. Although being a hotline volunteer may seem daunting, or super serious because of the hours or nature of the role, you receive lots of support and training to help others. It’s definitely worth doing!

There are no specific requirements to be a helpline volunteer. As long as you’re someone who is open-minded, willing to learn, and can listen well – that’s the perfect start!

If you want to volunteer with London Nightline, they currently have a Publicity volunteer role available! You can also browse the full list of helpline roles on our directory by going on the ‘Helplines’ category.