Listening Volunteers

Listening Volunteers

Bristol Nightline is a volunteer organisation. We rely on student volunteers to run our phoneline and Instant Messaging services.

Volunteering at Bristol Nightline can be a very rewarding experience. As a volunteer you can be a part of a service that supports people when they need it the most, and help fight stigma surrounding mental health. Volunteering can help you develop skills that you can use in other areas of your life, and gain experience in the mental health sector.

Here you will find a role description, details on how to write a successful applications, and listening volunteering FAQs.

Role Description

Listening Volunteers work in small groups to answer calls and respond to messages during night shifts. Their responsibilities include: 

  • Signing up to at least three night shifts every term (minimum 36 hours time commitment per term)
  • Volunteering on site at the Nightline office, located near the UOB campus
  • Providing a listening ear to callers on calls concerning a range of topics
  • Showing high levels of empathy, sincerity and acceptance towards callers
  • Remaining calm during potentially distressing calls
  • Providing information to callers who request it
  • Adhering to Nightline values, policies and call-taking techniques
  • Logging all communications on our online system
  • Attending welfare meetings and ongoing training sessions organised by Bristol Nightline

All successful applicants complete at least 16 hours of rigorous training, plus 36 hours of shift observation, before becoming a fulling trained Nightline Volunteer.

Successful applicants will demonstrate:

  • A good understanding of how Nightline operates
  • Clear motivations
  • Dedication to commit to long-term volunteering
  • Enthusiasm to learn
  • High levels of empathy
  • Their status as a registered student at the University of Bristol (not in TB2 of their final year)

Previous experience working or volunteering with mental health services is not required.

All Nightline volunteers go through training and are supported thoroughly throughout their volunteering. We are committed to the welfare of each of our volunteers and we have a dedicated management team and welfare officers, as well as established and easily-accessible forms of tailored wellbeing support. We are a mental health service, but above all we are a society, and we aim for our volunteers to feel part of a community. Being a volunteer is not all serious; we hold social events every fortnight for our volunteers to come together, relax and have fun.

Listening Volunteering FAQs

Can I tell people I’m applying to Nightline?

No, we are an anonymous service and must ensure that every stage of our application process abides by this. We expect volunteers to uphold anonymity for the duration of their volunteering.

Who can apply to volunteer for Nightline?

The short answer: any student at the University of Bristol! All kinds of people can make great volunteers: whether they study Physics or English. The most important characteristics to have are enthusiasm and empathy. Over your training we will teach you all the skills you need to take calls and answer messages for the service. You just need to bring energy, and a willingness to take onboard feedback and learn over the process.

Where do volunteers carry out shifts?

Volunteers answer calls and messages at a flat with kitchen, bathroom and sleeping facilities. It has a secret location and volunteers are expected to maintain this for anonymity and confidentiality reasons.

Do volunteers have to stay up all night?

Nope! Volunteers are encouraged to rest on shift between calls, on the sofa beds provided at the Nightline flat.

How long are shifts?

Shifts last the entire night, between 8pm and 8am.

Will I be on shift alone?

No! There are always one or two other volunteers on shift to support you.

How are volunteers supported?

Nightline cares about the well-being of every student, and that includes our volunteers! Volunteers are supported thoroughly throughout training and the whole time they volunteer with us. We know that being a Nightliner is not always easy. That’s why we have comprehensive welfare provisions and fast track access to external wellbeing support for our volunteers.

What is the time commitment like to volunteer?

Volunteering at Nightline is a flexible commitment and volunteers’ shifts schedules are decided by them. We encourage Nightliners to complete a minimum of three night shifts per term.

What do I do if you can’t make training?

All Listening Volunteers must complete the entire training process before becoming a volunteer. If you are not able to make the dates, please let us know on your application form and we will transfer your application to the next training cycle.

Is training mandatory?

Here at Bristol Nightline, we take the quality of our service seriously. It is essential volunteers undergo training so that they can properly support our callers.