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Patch the Bear (aka. Laura): Nottingham Nightline


A helpline for me, for you, for everyone in Nottingham.

We all know that feeling when the pressure and stress of uni and the daunting thought of what comes after becomes a little too much. Nightline is The University of Nottingham’s confidential listening and information service which is run for students by students.

We caught up with Nightlines very own mascot Patch the Bear (aka. Laura) at Fresher’s fair, to tell us more about how this student run helpline works, what her role is and how to get involved.

What is Nightline?

So… Nightline is our listening and information service right here at University. We’re here for our students, to listen and to comfort; you can speak to us about absolutely anything! There is always someone there to pick up your call and – most importantly – it is strictly confidential, meaning that we don’t know who is calling and we will never reveal the content of your conversation to anyone else.

We don’t seek to advise or lecture; it is all non-judgemental. The standard process is to carry out a normal conversation and primarily listen to you. You have the power; we listen, help and give information where we can. For example, let’s say you’re a Fresher who has been locked out of your room and have no clue what the security number is to get back in, if you ring Nightline we can help assist you in that situation. On the other end of the spectrum, if you want a list of the best Chinese takeaways in Lenton or Beeston, then I’m sure most of us are very qualified for that!  

How long have you been part of Nightline yourself?I’ve been involved for the past year and a half, but in the role I’m in now, for a year. I have been on the Exec team for a year since last June and in February I trained as a Listening Volunteer, which got me to the position I am now.

Does it only run at night?

No, it is running 24/7 for the first three weeks of term to mainly help out any worried or confused Fresher’s (and of course returners) and then it is 7pm-8am every day of term time.

Can I speak to Nightline about anything?

Yes of course! Nothing is ever too big or too small to speak to us about, we will always try and help, but will never advise you.

What’s happening here today then? I see Student Minds are also present…

We also affiliate with Student Minds who are a discussion group on campus who meet once a week. This is a separate service to Nightline, but again it is there for our students to get involved and share any of their concerns, experiences and questions… whatever it may be.Both Nightline and Student Minds are services for you, run by students trained to talk about any issues students or staff may have.

As a Listening Volunteer, what do you do and how long is your training?Listening Volunteers are specifically students who have undergone our training and are completely anonymous. The beauty of our service is that our volunteers can be anyone: someone in your lecture theatre, your house mate or your seminar buddy. You will never know and they will never know who they’ve been listening to either. This allows you to speak freely about whatever you like in a safe and private setting, without being judged in any way.

So how does the training work?

We have just revamped it a little bit; to start we will have an introductory evening to see if the role is suited to you and then to apply you need to grab an application form from our website and will be required to have an interview. Once you have been accepted onto our training course, you’ll begin your training. There’s so many steps as we’re serious about the service we provide, we need to be sure that Nightline and its staff are fully equipped and committed to deal with any situation that may come up.

What is the role of your Publicity Volunteers?

We have publicity volunteers who aren’t trained for listening, but are crucial to our publicity. They focus on getting our presence out there and can act as Patch too! So that’s always exciting. We’re currently looking to recruit some new volunteers for this role, so if anyone’s interested in doing some volunteering for us – get in touch! The main thing these volunteers do is go to Ocean; either on a Wednesday night for Trent or Friday night for UoN.

Oh, you cover Trent too?

Yeah, we cover the whole of Nottingham and its 60,000 students and so have a very wide presence in the community.

So, how many volunteers do you have roughly on the Nightline team?

We have a lot of volunteers from all the year ranges, from both UoN and Trent, as we expanded with them in 2012 and need students from Trent to ensure that Nightline is as prevalent there as it is here. We’re always expanding our numbers and we roughly take on 40-50 new members every training cycle, of which we have 2 a year.

Who IS Patch?Patch is our friendly bear mascot. He is usually one of the publicity volunteers, dressed up and changes every time he’s out; you have probably seen him around!He’s there for you to keep you safe and be a point of call for assistance on night’s out, whether that’s merely for a hug or to take our number.

And what would you say is his main role on night’s out?

His biggest role is going out to Ocean and looking out for our dense student populations that attend those nights. His aim is to keep our students safe, when they have a few too many and also to promote Nightline’s service so that students know what we do and that we are there for them. It helps to have a physical presence for that, so we have Patch himself and three or four Volunteers with him in t-shirts handing out lanyards and lighters in the smoking area, which both have our name and details on. They’re pretty cool and handy as they have a bottle opener on them too!Does Patch love hugs? I remember hugging him so much during my Fresher’s Week!

Patch LOVES hugs. It’s one of his main roles and one of the best ways to spread love and reduce stress – hugs are amazing.

I totally agree! On average, how many hugs do you think Patch gets a night during Fresher’s?

Easily around 500 hugs in one Fresher’s night alone! Most likely more, everyone loves hugging our friendly bear.

Wow! He gets around quite a bit, doesn’t he? Yeah, he’s a great guy! We try to get people take pictures with him on a night out, this promotes us whilst keeping you safe (and it also means our students get a cute photo at the end). Everyone’s a winner!

How can we find you online?

We have a strong online/social media presence; we’re on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, a student friendly way for you to find out what we are up to and when we are open. We also use it to promote our events during the year such as; free exam packs, tea and coffee in Hallward during exam time.

And in terms of actually contacting you, how can we do so?

Our telephone number is the most obvious way: 0115 951 4985.You can also Skype us; when you skype us via our email address it comes up as a phone call so it remains confidential. You can also Instant Message us via a tab on our website and one of us will answer when on shift.Finally you can email us 365 days a year too!

Contact us whichever way is most comfortable for you.

Great, how long will it take to normally get a reply/answer?

Almost instantaneously. You pick up the phone or send us an email and there will always be someone on the other side ready to listen, comfort and provide information where needed.

So, what’s new and how can students get involved?

We’ve gone through a complete rebranding, with new colours; so look out for our blue posters around campus.

We’ve made our Listening Training more concise and easier for our students to manage, aiming to help them feel absolutely secure whilst on the telephone lines offering information and comfort. We’re also working on our expansion with Nottingham Trent University, our office is based on their campus and you will go there to train and learn what we do.

We are currently looking for new Publicity and Listening Volunteers! If you are interested, feel free to drop us an email for an application form, the deadline is in early October.

And finally, how would you sum up Nightline?


Find Nightline!

Phone Nightline: 01159514985

Twitter: @NottsNightline

Website: nottinghamnightline.co.ukFacebook: Nottingham Nightline

Instagram: nottinghamnightline


Harry Potter Fanatic. What's life without a fresh, steaming coffee, a book to hand, and soaking in the London rain? Nox.
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