WHAT IS NIGHTLINE?

History active listening

History

Active listening volunteers at Nightline

Volunteers

4 principles of active listening

Four Principles

History

Nightline Paris was created in 2016 by Patrick Skehan, an Irish student who had come to France for his studies. Struck by the absence of structures dedicated to student mental health, he decided to create a Nightline based on the Anglo-Saxon model: a free listening service aimed at students and run by students.

Thanks to the Student Projects Initiative at PSL Research University, the association trained its first volunteers and opened its first phone/chat line in November 2017.

Gaining more and more partnerships, Nightline Paris expanded and, in Spring 2019, the association passed the 1500 calls mark! 2019 is also a year marked by the launch of a phone/chat line entirely in English, dedicated to helping international students.

The adventure is far from over as the association will soon expand to other cities in France: Nightline Lyon will open in October 2019, followed by other Nightlines in 2020!

Volunteers

From undergraduate to doctorate students, from universities to journalism schools, Nightline’s volunteers come from many different backgrounds! After an initial contact period, they undertake two weekends of intensive training in active listening. This training prepares them to deal with difficult subjects and respect our four principles, while also giving their full attention to callers.

Volunteers are not chosen based on previous experience but on their capacity to understand and accept others. While they come from diverse backgrounds, they are all students or recent students, and we believe that this helps them to better understand and discuss the problems related to student life. One of Nightline’s four principles is anonymity – because of this, our listening volunteers are not allowed to talk about their participation in the association.

Listening volunteers take calls during our night shifts, from 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. They can also decide to join one of the sub-committees of the association and therefore participate in the development of Nightline, in Paris and nationally.

Some volunteers who no longer wish to take calls decide to transition into other roles within the association. They may thus become one of our Public Faces, which gives them the opportunity to go meet students and present the service on Nightline’s behalf.

Public Faces are present during Nightline’s interventions within our different partner establishments, where they supply students with card games, pens, coffee and other goodies to keep them going! They are sometimes accompanied by listening volunteers who do not know anybody in the establishment they are visiting (allowing them to remain anonymous).

Being a Public Face gives volunteers the opportunity to build student awareness on the issues surrounding mental health, to learn how to speak in front of large crowds and to contribute to student life in a new and different way.

With over fifty francophone and English-speaking volunteers and more than 200,000 students in our partner universities, there is a lot of work to do in addition to the listening shifts! Composed of a mix of listening volunteers and public faces, the committee oversees this work.

Each member of the committee is head of one of the sub-committees within the association. These sub-committees bring together a variety of motivated volunteers around one activity, essential to the development of Nightline:

Well-being sub-committee: The well-being of our volunteers is at the heart of our mission! This sub-committee was created to organise outings and events each month so as to ensure the integration of new and existing volunteers.

Training sub-committee: Composed of experienced volunteers, the training sub-committee is responsible for recruiting and training new volunteers as well as for organising follow-up training sessions for the older generations.

Partnerships and Expansion sub-committee: A group of motivated volunteers meet new establishments (in Paris and elsewhere) and negotiate partnerships in order to make Nightline available to a maximum of students.

Finance sub-committee: With an important budget divided between the running of the association, the launching of new projects and the payment of employees, interns and volunteers in civil service, the finance sub-committee manages the association’s funds so as to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Research and Development sub-committee: This is the most specialised sub-committee in the association as it reviews research on mental health, in France and abroad, in order to remain up-to-date on what is being done and thus carry out innovative campaigns aimed at students.

Communication sub-committee: The communication sub-committee is perfect for volunteers with artistic talents, as they can participate in the creation of content for our many different platforms (cartoons, graphics, videos, etc.)

In addition to these volunteers, the association also enlists young people in civil service to whom specific missions are entrusted.

These civil service volunteers need to be available at least three days per week in order to implement important projects that are crucial to the development of Nightline.

During the following school year, their missions will focus on:

  • Mobilising student associations within universities around mental health issues
  • Mobilising student associations within private schools and preparatory courses
  • Communicating with foreign students (on exchange or refugees) in Paris
  • Creating an orientation service for students who need to see a free psychologist

Four principles

The listening service of Nightline Paris is organised around four main principles that we share with the other Nightlines as well as the majority of listening services around the world. These four principles are:

Anonymity

Anonymity. The identity of the caller remains secret throughout the entirety of the call and following it, and we take a number of measures to ensure that this remains the case. No identifying information is requested of the caller and the volunteers are encouraged to remind callers of this principle if they give too much detail about their personal situation. Similarly, the identity of the volunteers who take calls is also kept secret. Finally, the risk of identifying a caller or volunteer by the sound of their voice is often largely over-estimated, being almost unheard of in practice.

Confidentiality

Confidentiality. Everything that the caller says remains between the volunteer and the caller. Calls and chats are not saved. Confidentiality acts as an extra guarantee to callers, in addition to anonymity, and allows for the creation of a safe space where callers can speak openly and a relationship of confidence can be established.

Non-directive

A non-directive service. Volunteer listeners are never directive during calls. They are not there to force the conversation in a certain direction or to categorise individual experiences. The callers remain in control of the conversation and what they would like to discuss. In addition, the volunteer listeners don’t give advice or “solutions” to callers – they are there to listen, while helping callers to express their feelings and develop reflexions about their situation. Volunteers don’t have the knowledge or the information necessary to advise callers, as they are not medical professionals.

Non-judgmental

Non-judgmental. Volunteers are not here to judge callers, their decisions or their experiences. They try to create an open and welcoming space so that callers can express themselves without fearing a negative reaction. Nothing is taboo to discuss, volunteers are capable of dealing with a variety of subjects and they do not class certain calls as more important than others.

WHAT IS NIGHTLINE?

History active listening

History

Active listening volunteers at Nightline

Volunteers

4 principles of active listening

Four Principles

History

Nightline Paris was created in 2016 by Patrick Skehan, an Irish student who had come to France for his studies. Struck by the absence of structures dedicated to student mental health, he decided to create a Nightline based on the Anglo-Saxon model: a free listening service aimed at students and run by students.

Thanks to the Student Projects Initiative at PSL Research University, the association trained its first volunteers and opened its first phone/chat line in November 2017.

Gaining more and more partnerships, Nightline Paris expanded and, in Spring 2019, the association passed the 1500 calls mark! 2019 is also a year marked by the launch of a phone/chat line entirely in English, dedicated to helping international students.

The adventure is far from over as the association will soon expand to other cities in France: Nightline Lyon will open in October 2019, followed by other Nightlines in 2020!

Volunteers

From undergraduate to doctorate students, from universities to journalism schools, Nightline’s volunteers come from many different backgrounds! After an initial contact period, they undertake two weekends of intensive training in active listening. This training prepares them to deal with difficult subjects and respect our four principles, while also giving their full attention to callers.

Volunteers are not chosen based on previous experience but on their capacity to understand and accept others. While they come from diverse backgrounds, they are all students or recent students, and we believe that this helps them to better understand and discuss the problems related to student life. One of Nightline’s four principles is anonymity – because of this, our listening volunteers are not allowed to talk about their participation in the association.

Listening volunteers take calls during our night shifts, from 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. They can also decide to join one of the sub-committees of the association and therefore participate in the development of Nightline, in Paris and nationally.

Some volunteers who no longer wish to take calls decide to transition into other roles within the association. They may thus become one of our Public Faces, which gives them the opportunity to go meet students and present the service on Nightline’s behalf.

Public Faces are present during Nightline’s interventions within our different partner establishments, where they supply students with card games, pens, coffee and other goodies to keep them going! They are sometimes accompanied by listening volunteers who do not know anybody in the establishment they are visiting (allowing them to remain anonymous).

Being a Public Face gives volunteers the opportunity to build student awareness on the issues surrounding mental health, to learn how to speak in front of large crowds and to contribute to student life in a new and different way.

With over fifty francophone and English-speaking volunteers and more than 200,000 students in our partner universities, there is a lot of work to do in addition to the listening shifts! Composed of a mix of listening volunteers and public faces, the committee oversees this work.

Each member of the committee is head of one of the sub-committees within the association. These sub-committees bring together a variety of motivated volunteers around one activity, essential to the development of Nightline:

Well-being sub-committee: The well-being of our volunteers is at the heart of our mission! This sub-committee was created to organise outings and events each month so as to ensure the integration of new and existing volunteers.

Training sub-committee: Composed of experienced volunteers, the training sub-committee is responsible for recruiting and training new volunteers as well as for organising follow-up training sessions for the older generations.

Partnerships and Expansion sub-committee: A group of motivated volunteers meet new establishments (in Paris and elsewhere) and negotiate partnerships in order to make Nightline available to a maximum of students.

Finance sub-committee: With an important budget divided between the running of the association, the launching of new projects and the payment of employees, interns and volunteers in civil service, the finance sub-committee manages the association’s funds so as to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Research and Development sub-committee: This is the most specialised sub-committee in the association as it reviews research on mental health, in France and abroad, in order to remain up-to-date on what is being done and thus carry out innovative campaigns aimed at students.

Communication sub-committee: The communication sub-committee is perfect for volunteers with artistic talents, as they can participate in the creation of content for our many different platforms (cartoons, graphics, videos, etc.)

In addition to these volunteers, the association also enlists young people in civil service to whom specific missions are entrusted.

These civil service volunteers need to be available at least three days per week in order to implement important projects that are crucial to the development of Nightline.

During the following school year, their missions will focus on:

  • Mobilising student associations within universities around mental health issues
  • Mobilising student associations within private schools and preparatory courses
  • Communicating with foreign students (on exchange or refugees) in Paris
  • Creating an orientation service for students who need to see a free psychologist

Four principles

The listening service of Nightline Paris is organised around four main principles that we share with the other Nightlines as well as the majority of listening services around the world. These four principles are:

Anonymity

Anonymity. The identity of the caller remains secret throughout the entirety of the call and following it, and we take a number of measures to ensure that this remains the case. No identifying information is requested of the caller and the volunteers are encouraged to remind callers of this principle if they give too much detail about their personal situation. Similarly, the identity of the volunteers who take calls is also kept secret. Finally, the risk of identifying a caller or volunteer by the sound of their voice is often largely over-estimated, being almost unheard of in practice.

Confidentiality

Confidentiality. Everything that the caller says remains between the volunteer and the caller. Calls and chats are not saved. Confidentiality acts as an extra guarantee to callers, in addition to anonymity, and allows for the creation of a safe space where callers can speak openly and a relationship of confidence can be established.

Non-directive

A non-directive service. Volunteer listeners are never directive during calls. They are not there to force the conversation in a certain direction or to categorise individual experiences. The callers remain in control of the conversation and what they would like to discuss. In addition, the volunteer listeners don't give advice or "solutions" to callers – they are there to listen, while helping callers to express their feelings and develop reflexions about their situation. Volunteers don't have the knowledge or the information necessary to advise callers, as they are not medical professionals.

Non-judgmental

Non-judgmental. Volunteers are not here to judge callers, their decisions or their experiences. They try to create an open and welcoming space so that callers can express themselves without fearing a negative reaction. Nothing is taboo to discuss, volunteers are capable of dealing with a variety of subjects and they do not class certain calls as more important than others.