Why I decided to volunteer with NiteLine
Despite being nervous to start, this SpunOut.ie reader is really enjoying volunteer with this great organisation
This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact email@example.com.
NiteLine is a free and confidential listening service run by students and for students of ITT, ITB, MU, NCAD, NCI, RCSI, TCD, UCD and their affiliate colleges. NiteLine is open every night of term from 9.30pm - 2.30am.
Too many drunken fuelled fresher nights had taken its toll. A NiteLine sticker on the back of a toilet door told me I wasn’t alone. Then a poster stuck beside it told me that they were recruiting. I needed something to change. I needed to start that change so I filled out an application form. Little did I realise the impact that filling out that application form would have on me. Or little did I know that soon, I would be responsible for my college to ban NiteLine stickers because of a slight sticker frenzy I pursued, on one mysterious night on campus!
The honour, the compassion and the trust of NiteLine volunteers is unbelievable. First year in college can seem like a thrilling adventure. But for many people, it can often turn into something not so fun instead. The harsh realities of searching for somewhere to live, finding a friend group, going to lectures, feeling at home in a new environment etc. can take its toll on our mental health. This is why NiteLine is so important for ensuring we all study in a safe and secure student environment that we deserve as students.
NiteLine does this by offering a free and confidential service every night of term. We accept any to every call that we can to the best of our abilities; from loneliness or chatting about the weather, to self-harm or sexual assault. There is no such thing as a typical call and no problem is too big or small for us.
I joined NiteLine in first year after accepting an offer for training. The thought of commuting in and out of the city centre in Dublin was at first, quite daunting. I was petrified on that first day. I didn't know where to sit or who to talk to. At first I felt isolated as I was one of only very few trainees from my college. The first person I saw was a tall skinny guy in a long pink velvet coat, who stood by the entrance chatting with the other newbies. He laughed and swayed as he chatted with people. He had a gloriously positive aura. He had a confidence that I wanted. I was a little anxious as I knew that this new experience would be difficult, but under the surface, I knew that it was going to fit the missing piece.
Since then, I’ve immersed myself into an organisation where people identify as themselves and who assert the best version of themselves. I’ve learned how to be the best active listener I can possibly be. I’ve learned how to facilitate active listening workshops, organise publicity events, conduct interviews, practice excellent communication traits and be at forefront of a confidential service where volunteers safeguard your stories.
Inevitably, it has been difficult to ensure that I find that healthy balance between college work and NiteLine, as I do spend 2/3 times per month on the phones as well as attending various business meetings and subcommittee meetings that I’m involved in. However, I’ve learned how to find a balance that suits my needs with NiteLines needs. I’ve learned to ensure that the values that NiteLine holds are secure, so NiteLine can continue to work to secure a safe student environment (and to achieve decent grades to keep my parents happy!)
There has been an overwhelming influx of support from the Student Services Centre, the Student Union, lecturers who act as NiteLine staff ambassadors, Friends of NiteLine (a group of publicity helpers) and the entire student body of our eight affiliate colleges who have either volunteered as phone and publicity volunteers.
To those who have used our free listening service or availing of free goodies during our many publicity events on campus, this service is for you.
We are currently recruiting volunteers at the moment which is an incredibly humbling opportunity to help out your fellow peers and gain some excellent skills that’ll benefit you in both your personal and work life. I can really assure you that your potential time as a NiteLine volunteer will be an unbelievable experience.
Join NiteLine today as a Phone or Publicity volunteer at https://niteline.ie/training/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.