UoG Nightline Service: Students supporting the mental health of students


When university staff and students come together amazing things can happen and this brand new project is evidence of that. With the help of Your Future Plan team, we are delighted to have the opportunity to share this wonderful and important initiative run by students for students. Mental Health matters and a crisis can come any time night or day, read on and learn more about this exciting initiative.

When I retired at the end of 2017, after a successful career as a civil engineer and then an advisor in the banking sector, I knew I wanted to do something completely different. I trained for and undertook various voluntary roles before I found two that really matched my interests. For most of 2019 I worked with one organisation that provided relationship and sex education workshops in schools and another which held workshops with boys and young men in schools and colleges to promote positive models of masculinity. This was rewarding work, and I hope it contributed to the development of healthier attitudes in the adults of the future than those which held back my generation (and a few that followed mine).

When I applied to do an MSc conversion course in Psychology at UoG I arranged to do so part-time, so that I could continue this voluntary work. Sadly, the pandemic has meant that both organisations have had to postpone all workshops for now (and are struggling to survive financially until they can restart) and I had to think again. With the help of the UoG Future Plan Team I struck upon the idea of starting a Nightline service. A Nightline is a service run by students for students and provides much-needed support during those hours where other student services are closed but those dark and disturbing thoughts will not go away. It is a listening and information service which does not offer advice or counselling, but the chance to talk to people who understand and care.

This is not a novel idea – I spoke to one Nightline while researching this which had operated for 43 years and about 100 universities and colleges benefit from such a service – but it was new for me, and it seemed had never been seriously promoted at UoG. Yet I found I was pushing at an open door. Both the SU and the University welcomed the idea with open arms and fulsome support, and in no time the project was underway.

In the last few months we have made amazing progress. The Steering Group to run the set-up phase, of which I am Chair, is in place and we are working hard on preparing the many policies and procedures needed to protect the interests of both callers and volunteers and to run this service in a professional way. Our Training and Recruitment Officer, Ellie Nowill, is busy preparing the training programme and we hope to recruit our first batch of volunteers (ideally around 40) by the end of April, so that training can begin in May. If all goes to our rather ambitious plan the phonelines will open in September ready for the start of the new academic year.

It is very important to us that this proves to be a service for all. In the drafting of the policies, the recruitment of the Committee who will run the service from September, and in the recruitment of the volunteers, we want diversity to be built into everything we do. We are reaching out to the Experience Officers in the SU to ensure that we are inclusive in our approach and to maximise the chances that the Committee and volunteers are as diverse as the callers will be.  So, if you are reading this and would like to help us reach that goal, please get in touch at the address below. We are excited at the potential for good that this service brings and hope that if you need it one day, we will be there for you.

Please Contact

Steve Richards steverichards@connect.glos.ac.uk

or

Eleanor Nowill eleanornowill@connect.glos.ac.uk

Have something to share? We welcome student contributions to our blog an any subject relating to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. To find out more please email equality@glos.ac.uk

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