What happens when I call or start a chat?

Who can call? (Spoiler: everybody !)

FAQ listening service Nightline


Our listening service is non-directive, which means that our volunteers won’t tell you what to do, they are there to listen. As a result, it’s difficult to describe a “classic call”, as each call is different.

However, we have observed certain regularities in calls that appear time and again. First, despite offering a listening service that is non-judgmental and non-directive, we do get caught up by social conventions. As a result, most conversations begin with “Hello, Hi, Hey, Umm ?” preceded by or followed by the unmissable “Hello, Nightline…” from one of our volunteers. Sometimes callers remain silent for a time at the beginning of a call, and this is okay too.

Even if the beginning of the conversation can be a bit destabilising due to it being a new experience, most of the time it’s not very difficult to get a conversation going. Our four principles (anonymity, confidentiality, non-judgmental and non-directive) are so important to us because they help callers feel at ease when contacting us. Finally, it sometimes happens that callers, in the first moments of a contacting us via chat, ask whether they are talking to a machine or a person – we can ensure you that all our calls are handled by human volunteers!

What are the themes that regularly come up during calls, even if there is no such thing as a “classic call”? Here are some recurring issues we see:

  • Academic difficulties
  • Addiction
  • Body issues
  • Adapting to university life
  • Adapting to a new country
  • Loneliness
  • Relationship problems
  • Health
  • Suicide

It’s important not to feel limited by these themes. Some callers talk about multiple subjects, others talk about their day or their interests, and some remain silent for a large part of the call. We’re happy to take all of these calls. We don’t have all the answers, but we are able to give you information on support services that might be useful, if you feel you need them.

Anybody can call the service, as long as they’re a student or researcher in the Ile-de-France region. There isn’t any restriction other than this. The charity has a number of higher education partners with whom we work closely, but all Ile-de-France students and researchers are free to call us.

So whether you’re in the first year of your undergraduate course, second year of your Master’s, here on exchange or going into the final year of your thesis, don’t hesitate to contact us!

What is Nightline?

It is a listening service run by students, for students. Our service is independent, although we work with a number of partners in higher education and in the public sector. Our French-speaking telephone and chat service is open from 9pm to 2:30am Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. An English-speaking service will open in November 2018.

Can I call if I don’t speak French?

We will be opening an English-speaking line, with a dedicated number and chat service, in November 2018. Between now and then, you can call the French-speaking line, but please be aware that volunteers can only reply in French (even though some may be able to understand a mix of French and English). If you speak no French at all, you can contact SOS Help at 01 46 21 46 46 from 3pm to 11pm daily.

What happens when I call?

Once you have heard the words, “Hello, Nightline…” the call is completely under your control. You can say as much or as little as you like and discuss any subject you wish. We are here to listen to what you have to say and discuss your situation with you.

Is there a time-limit to calls?

Each call by phone must finish after one hour and thirty minutes and calls by chat must finish after two hours, if the call has not come to an end naturally beforehand. If you like, you can call back immediately afterward. However, we don’t link calls due to confidentiality, so each call starts from scratch (although you can give a summary of your previous call if you like).

It is unlikely that you will have the same volunteer if you call back, but all our volunteers are trained along the same guidelines and ready to listen.

How much does a call cost?

Nothing! Calls to our listening service cost nothing more than a normal call to a landline, which is normally free for telephones and mobiles in France. We are financed by our partners.

Do I have to be suicidal or depressed to call?

No, not at all. Volunteers are trained to be able to listen to any issue – no problem is too big or too small. You don’t even need a reason to call – if you want to just have a chat, confide in somebody about something on your mind or talk about your day, you can. Some callers don’t speak and just want to know somebody is there, and this is okay too.

What happens if I want to talk to a specific volunteer or want to talk to a man or woman specifically?

All our volunteers are trained in the same way and due to the anonymous nature of the service, you cannot ask for a specific volunteer. However, if you would like to speak to another volunteer, you can end the call and call back. Normally, another volunteer will respond, but we cannot guarantee that they will be a man or woman specifically.

Are the volunteers at Nightline trained?

Yes. Nightlines have existed for more than 50 years in Ireland and Great Britain and we follow the same training process as established by these listening services. All volunteers are trained before they begin taking calls, as well as participating in continuous training throughout the year.

Will the volunteer give me advice?

We cannot give advice to callers as we are a non-directive service. However, we can talk with you about your situation, your feelings and your options in the hope of helping you find some clarity so that you might be able to make your own choices about how to proceed.