Meet your Nightline Officer
Do you ever wonder what all the different positions are in SUSU? We want to make things clearer for you so you’re aware of the different officials who work or volunteer for SUSU. We have 7 Sabbatical Officers, 33 Student Leaders, 4 Student Trustees and 13 Councillors, who all play a massive part in the running and improving of SUSU so that students have a better time at the University of Southampton. We’ll be releasing Q&A’s of individual Student Leaders, Councillors and Student Trustee, so you can find out more about them and their role!
We are proud to introduce our Nightline Officer, Emily Shepherd! Emily has incredible passion for her role as Nightline Officer and SUSU is really excited to see Nightline grow in the next year. Find out more about Emily & her role below!
Emily Shepherd – Nightline Officer
Tell us a bit about yourself Emily!
Hey! I’m a 21 year old 3rd Year Computer Scientist – I’m also transgender, so when I’m not doing things as Nightline Officer, I like to spend my time pestering the university and the union to ensure they’re always considering ways to be inclusive to people with any gender identity.
Can you tell us what Nightline is?
Southampton Nightline is a free confidential listening and information telephone service. We’re run and staffed entirely by students, for students in Southampton. We’re open every night during term time 20:00 – 08:00 , and we’ll listen about absolutely anything, big or small. We’re also really useful for information like taxi numbers, or numbers for offices & staff at the university.
What does a Nightline Officer do?
Within Nightline, I have overall responsibility for ensuring our call takers are well trained and follow best practice, so that we can stay open and provide top quality support for students at Southampton. I also represent Nightline to SUSU, the University and the national Nightline Association – this ensures we have all the oversight and support that’s required for such an essential service. As the only non-anonymous member, I act as the public face of Nightline and apply for (or beg for!) funding for our publicity campaigns.
What interested you in running for Nightline Officer?
I have called up Nightline myself on multiple occasions – I can tell you that it is so invaluable to have someone that can just listen. To be responsible for this service, and knowing that we’re helping our students, is truly an honour. I ran for it because I’m desperate to tell people about us and let them know we’re always willing to listen, no matter what the issue – if I could get away with it, I’d be shouting about Nightline from the roof of the maths tower!
If someone was interested in helping Nightline, what steps should they take?
We’ll be hosting taster and training sessions during Freshers’ next September – the dates aren’t set for these yet, but they are likely to be on the weekends at the end of Freshers’ Fortnight. We’ll be accepting signups at the Bun Fight and online at www.susu.org. You can also get in contact with us via twitter, email, Facebook, by calling Nightline or even in person if you see me – so many options!
What are you looking forward to the most this year with SUSU?
I think this year is going to be an exciting one for SUSU, so choosing just one thing is going to be hard. We’ve just been ‘Best Practice Accredited’ by the Nightline Association so I think I’m looking forward to having lots of time to do outward facing stuff like publicity and recruiting volunteers.
What are the three main things you want to accomplish this year?
I want more callers – now obviously if no one has the need to use Nightline, that’s great, but with the many stresses of being at university, I want to make sure everyone feels totally comfortable giving us a call.
More volunteers – we provide a service to our students, both through what we do, and by providing a student- led group for our members to get involved in. I want to get more people involved, including more Post-Grads and mature students if possible. It’s our union – I want people involved so we can all have a say about how we do things.
Other kinds of listening – we get a lot of callers who are too nervous to talk, that’s totally understandable and we’ll always stay on the line with people even if they aren’t comfortable to talk. However, I’d love to explore other ways to listen, perhaps via email, live online chat or perhaps even drop in sessions. We’re here for the callers, so we want them to be able to talk to us in the way that best suits them.
Do you have any media streams that students can follow to keep in touch with Nightline?
We’re a part of SUSU, so we are accountable to you – we regularly report to the Student Life Zone Committee which is open for anyone to come and ask questions at. The Nightline Officer also sits on Union Council where I can be asked questions formally – if you do it like that, I have to answer you and my response will be minuted and kept on the public record.
I think it’s important you know what I’m up to, so if you do ask me a question at Council or at the Student Life Zone Committee, I’ll give you some chocolate or sweets!
A big thank you to Emily for taking the time our to answer questions today and we’d like to say that if you find yourself up against anything that leaves you feeling anxious or stressed then please give Nightline a call on 02380 595 236 or contact them via their social media channels (linked above).
Words by Mayan Al-Shakarchy