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Organisers optimistic as Nightline launches

Nightline is the on-campus support helpline run for students, by students.

Nightline is available for all students to call between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. during semester dates: 01786 466866

At a launch event on January 24, members of the committee and the Students’ Union expressed their views about the opportunities that Nightline, a student-led support helpline, provides for mental health at the university.

The group that have been working to establish Stirling Nightline are optimistic about the impact the service will have on the student community.

Nightline’s founder, postgraduate student Jennifer Littlejohn, spoke about the first steps of setting up Nightline and what she hopes the service can do for students:

“It kind of started when I was talking to my friends near the end of our dissertations and we realised that there’s really nowhere to go for support outside of our personal tutors and student support services.

“It is sometimes taken for granted that deadline stress, issues around your flat or finances is just a part of student culture, and you might feel judged for going to a tutor or student support with what seems like a petty problem, but other students understand the stress that comes with these things.”

Littlejohn said that setting up Nightline has brought together a lot of services at the university, making her more optimistic for the future of Nightline,

“Through planning, applying for grants and setting up office space we have worked with almost every area. IT, student support, the students’ union and accommodation services. This connects everyone at the university, everyone has a say.”

Nightline founder Jennifer Littlejohn and Students’ Union Chief Executive Audrey Burns Credit: Brig Newspaper/Harry Williamson

The impact that organisers would like Nightline to have was also discussed:

“This is all about community.

“We want people to feel that Stirling University is their own, that they can open up about their stress and that there will be people there to listen.

“We want people to know that Stirling University is their community and that people do want to support them.”

Littlejohn has already received positive comments and hopes that Nightline can become an established part of the university for years to come.

“I’m really optimistic, I’ve already had people making really nice comments. Students are engaging and I hope Nightline can take on a life of its own.

“I’d love to see Nightline become an established service. This launch is the first step. We want people to feel that Stirling uni cares.

“This can be a life force for students to rely on throughout the years.”

Nightline’s external coordinator, Iona Gray, spoke about the training and team that are in place. Gray approached the student union to discuss the possibility of Nightline, unaware of Littlejohn’s ongoing efforts before the two teamed up:

“I was the welfare officer for Hockey, and I noticed a big gap in support available for people who were struggling, especially at night. I remember thinking if people are struggling in Hockey, then they must be struggling elsewhere in the uni.”

Nightline received 80 applications from volunteers, 60 were interviewed and Nightline now has 47 completely trained volunteers.

Nightline publicity officer Charlie Lochhead (Left) Credit: Brig Newspaper/Harry Williamson

Nightline volunteers received their training from St. Andrews Nightline, who have been operating for 50 years.

Gray and Littlejohn were part of the start up steering group for Stirling Nightline in June of 2019.

“Its been a long process and we’re hoping to make a difference. Hopefully as more people hear about it, the bigger it will become,” Gray said.

Charlie Lochhead, a fourth year Psychology student got involved with Nightline and joined their committee as one of the publicity officers.

“Although uni is painted as this carefree and fun experience, that is not always the case. It can be full of loneliness and uncertainty are an issue.

“The aim of Nightline is to be there for anyone having a hard time.”

The students’ union share the optimism. Advocacy and Inclusion Development Coordinator Lynn Maher said Nightline is a “good initiative” that will compliment the already existing support services.

Maher said that Nightline provides unique help as “students will have a good knowledge of the campus and can signpost other students and it gives students the option to speak to someone if they want to remain anonymous.

“We have had a lot of enquiries about setting up a Nightline so this service very much comes from the student body.”

The students’ union shares the optimism about Nightline. Credit: Brig Newspaper/Harry Williamson

The union’s Chief Executive, Audrey Burns, said that the issues that people call Nightline for will be compiled and this information will be used to help both the students’ union and the university identify the issues surrounding student’s mental health and work to resolve these issues.

“This is something really valuable to have,” she said, “this data will be a temperature taker to make real change.”

Nightline received funding from the Vice-Chancellor’s fund and has been a service in the works since June of last year.

Nightline is available for all students to call between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. during semester dates: 01786 466866

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