The Saint: How did you get involved with Nightline?
Katherine Skeels: I got involved in my first year. During Freshers Fayre, I came up on the Nightline booth. After their spiel, I was instantly sold on the model of students helping other students anonymously. It was kind of like being a mental health ninja! I went through the application process and have never looked back. After two years as a listening volunteer, I became Deputy Director and a public face, which means that I don’t take calls anymore. After a year as Deputy Director I became one of two Publicity Officers. I have worked with amazing people across the university and I have loved every minute. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences!
TS: Why do you think it’s important that it’s a student-run service?
KS: It can sometimes be intimidating to talk to an ‘adult’ or someone who is an authority figure. Nightline fills that gap. I think it’s really unique. Also, as students, we are empathetic towards other students because volunteers have experienced student life and similar situations as many of our contacts. Nightline is also completely confidential, which can help some callers if they are concerned about talking to the university.
TS: What’s been a rewarding moment of your work at Nightline?
KS: Wow, that is a tough one. One time at this Nightline cake sale, a student
came up to us and just handed us money (and not just a pound), without wanting any cake or any of the free items we were handing out. They said that they just thought that Nightline was a valuable service and that it had helped them and they wanted to pay us back somehow. Because Nightline is anonymous and confidential, after the email has been sent or the phone hung up, we can’t go and ask students if they found it helpful or follow up in any way, so it was an amazing experience to have a student come up and say that they have benefited from the service (And to show such generosity in handing over their own cash to us)!
TS: What kind of issues can Nightline help students with?
KS: Nightline is there for everything and anything ranging from homesickness, relationships (friends and significant others), school stress, stress in general, confidence, had a great day and all my friends are in the library but I want to tell someone-moments, taxi numbers, sexuality, or how to get to Edinburgh. Literally anything and everything. I like to think of Nightline as a sounding board for life. We won’t push you in a certain direction and are there to provide a listening ear for anything that might be going on in your life: the good, the bad and the ugly.
TS: Do students need to be in an emergency situation to get in touch
KS: It doesn’t have to be serious! Students can contact us if they are just on their way back from a night out and just want to tell someone about their day.
TS: Is there anything you wish more students knew about Nightline?
KS: We are here for students – not just for emergencies, but for anything that life throws your way. Life can be complicated and messy sometimes, and Nightline is here to help you through it all.