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Nocturnal phone service supported by Stephen Fry return to UoA

Nightline relaunches at weekends but suggests UoA tutors need mental health training


By Jake Roslin


Photo courtesy of Christian Erfurt via Unsplash


Aberdeen University Nightline, a student-led listening service, is now taking calls at weekends from 8pm to 8am, after two years of only being able to offer email and text support.


‘Students can get in touch about literally anything, call just for a chat while walking back from a night out, asking for information... issues with flatmates, or something more serious,’ a student spokesperson told The Gaudie. Those who work for the service remain anonymous, as do all users of the service.


Nightline has operated on Aberdeen’s campus for thirty years, and is part of a national network of student-led Nightlines. As well as a trained student at the end of the phone through the night at weekends, text chat will continue to be available via a local website seven evenings a week. Students can alternatively email at any time.


‘I think that the University and AUSA have been trying very hard to meet the mental health needs of the student body… setting up the university helpline, offering counselling services and with AUSA having the VP for Welfare who organises different events and promotions,’ continued the representative. ‘What I think the University staff could potentially benefit from is gaining more mental health awareness... This would also legitimise mental health problems more as reasons for limited or missing participation…’


Nightline now operates at most UK universities, beginning in the University of Essex in 1970 after a professor and chaplain noticed high levels of emotional stress among undergraduates. Since 2006 it has operated as a national charity. Its five cornerstones are to be confidential, anonymous, non-judgmental, non-advisory and non-directory.


‘We are simply there for other students to have someone they can confide in,’ said UoA’s representative, ‘and explore their thoughts.’

Stephen Fry is a celebrity supporter of the service and mental health awareness in general, being President of the MIND charity. He previously hosted a BBC Radio 4 appeal for Nightline during which he mused ‘Student life isn't always the party people might think it is’.


The telephone service at UoA hopes to expand from two to seven nights a week as soon as it can. ‘We take in new volunteers at the start of every semester... we give them six weeks of training, which will properly prepare them for most of the different kinds of calls you may receive,’ the spokesperson added. ‘Another aspect that we are trying to grow is the sense of community, which we are working on building up again after having been apart for the past two years.’


Students can sign up to be a Nightline volunteer at aberdeen.nightline.ac.uk.


Nightline can be emailed 24/7 at listening@aberdeen.nightline.ac.uk, is on instant chat via aberdeen.nightline.ac.uk between 8pm and midnight seven days a week, and takes voice calls on 01224 27 28 29 between 8pm and 8am, currently Friday and Saturday nights only.