An interview with Nightline’s Miles Billington

WE MET MILES Billington who is the co-ordinater for Nightline. Though not a union society, the Aberystwyth call centre is made by students for students.

First off, what was your mascot Nigel’s  (pictured here) origin?167796_185549331473164_5350913_n
Well the whole idea of Nightline is to be an approachable service run by students for students and when it comes to mascots, what is more approachable than a giant teddy bear! The mascot differs as well, some other branches have an Owl, but personally I find the owl slightly more terrifying than good old Nige.

How do you think Nightline helps students?
Nightline provides an anonymous listening service for students through the mediums of Email, Instant Messaging and of course a phone call. We are here for every fantastic student at Aberystwyth. No matter how small you feel your problem may be, we aim to be open 8PM till 8 AM Tuesday to Sunday so you can talk to someone who will not break your anonymity, who will not judge you and who will sit and listen to you for as long as you need.
On that, what’s your policy regarding the anonymity of both any callers and the Nightliners themselves?
We have a few people within Nightline who are public faces, such as myself, who you will see at Freshers’ Fayres and the events we hope to hold over the year to let you know we’re around. However, apart from that everything is anonymous, and should you contact us your conversation will stay between you and the Nightliner who listens to you.

How do people get in touch with you?
We are available to talk through Instant Messaging, Email and by Phone. All of the details may be found on the Students’ Union website to make sure that the service is kept exclusively for the students of Aber.

How can students get involved in Nightline as volunteers?
Come and see us at the Freshers’ Fayres! We’d love to meet you and if you’re interested in what we do, we invite you to our training sessions to see if you’ve got what it takes to be a Nightliner!

How involved are helpline partnerships in what you do?
Nightline may be a student run service but it is not affiliated with the university as such and, due to its high standard anonymity policies, is an individual helpline. It is its own charity which makes a very happy home here at Aberystwyth and prides itself on being a shoulder for students should they require one.

Do you have any advice for the Freshers?
Do I have any advice for the Freshers…? As a member of Nightline, my advice to you is this; University is a fantastic chance to re-invent yourself, you’ve come to a town full of young people all in the same boat as you. If you feel like screaming and running for one of the many ubiquitous hills here, don’t. You’ll get tired and lost and probably end up with a great anecdote about ‘That time you were accosted by sheep’. Say hello to everyone! Even if you don’t get to meet them again you may one day bump into them and think “hey wait a second… I know you from somewhere” Something else to do is to join everything that interests you! You will make so many friends and learn new skills through the friendships and societies you join. As a student, I would only add one thing. Your work is very important, but remember to have a good time, too. If you get the balance right then University doesn’t have to be tough – it can be the enriching experience you hoped it would be.

If you were to sum up the last year for Nightline in a tweet, what would it be?
I’m not much of a twitter user myself but here goes…
New People. Awesomeness. Great Socials. Late Nights. Early Mornings. Seven shot Caramel Macchiato. Do it all again.
#Stillsmiling #Wouldn’tdoanythingelse

What’s the future for Nightline?
This year we are hoping to bring about some changes in our service and make things easier for our wonderful volunteers. We also may be organising some events to promote ourselves and to give our students a decent night out

When did you first get involved in Nightline, and how was that process for you?
When I joined Nightline I got involved through a good friend, but I also had my own reasons. I’m sure we’ve all known people in the past who have popped up to us in the middle of the night on Facebook or through a text because they need someone to talk to. Well a long time ago now I was one of those people although, I didn’t have someone I could talk to at the time. I was alone, I didn’t have the friends I know now or the people I’ve grown close to to give me the time of day. I’ve also been the person who has been asleep when someone needs to talk to you and you miss their message, unfortunately it was too late when I received that message when I woke up. When I considered both sides of that reality and realised that here within Nightline there was a chance for me to become part of something that aims to prevent anyone else from ever experiencing what I once did.

Whether it was their own problems or someone they were worried about, here is a service they can talk to who won’t judge them – who can empathise with them. So I signed up. In my mind it was the only decision. Sometimes I’ll be on shift and it will be around three in the morning when the phone goes and as I reach the handset I know that If we have a quiet night where nobody has called us then hopefully everything was alright in Aber, but if we are contacted then I can smile because I know that the person talking to us is in safe hands. My confidence in the people I volunteer with is unfaltering and I’ve never seen a reason for that to change.

How would you describe your own experience within Nightline?
I have loved the whole experience and have met some fantastic and genuine people who now, after a recent election, I have been given the chance to work together with to increase the service we provide and make Nightline the service I, and the incredible team working with me, envision it to be.

Any final words?
Please don’t hesitate to call Nightline if you need someone who will listen to you. We are here for you.
You can call Nightline on the number found on your Aber Card and on posters around campus; email us at [email protected]; or use our instant messaging service on http://www.nightline.aber.ac.uk/.