Texting

“It was nice to speak to somebody who had an outside look and was very supportive”.

— Text Service User

Text us: 07717 989 900

Any night 6pm-8am term-time. We reply within 10 minutes.

One of our goals is to make our service accessible to a wide range of people, and one of our big steps in doing so was introducing our texting service in 2014. It taps into a popular means of written communication for young people, and allows you to contact us at your own pace. Some callers might feel safer contacting us via their mobile phone, rather than using the internet, which might be offered by their university halls, for example, or instead of talking out loud and risk being overheard by flatmates. Texting is also useful for brief information requests. Samaritans research indicates that over 80% of people under age 25 prefer sending texts to phone calls.

Texting our service is similar to our Instant Messaging, which we introduced in 2016 to replace Skype Chat. However, it doesn’t require an internet connection, and you don’t have to reply instantly; it allows you to work at a pace of your choosing, and you can come back to the conversation, hours or even days later.

What happens when I text you?

Just like with instant messaging, one of our computers will ring if we receive a text. A volunteer will then read the text, check if you’ve texted us before (to avoid repeating ourselves, but they can only see the last 30 messages), and type a reply using our secure online system that hides your number. Just like with all our other services, we will offer support and information over text. Our replies will reflect on what you said, ask you questions to expand on your thoughts, and/or give any information you might have requested.

You will get an automatic reply from us explaining how texting works if it’s your first time texting us. You’ll also get an automatic reply if we’re closed that says when we can get back to you.

We aim to get back to you within 10 minutes. If not, you will get an automated message explaining that all our volunteers are busy and they will get back to you as soon as possible.

This number is only for our texting service. If you call our texting number, the call won’t connect. Instead, please ring our helpline number 0207 631 0101.

What does texting cost you?

Our number, 07717 989 900, is a standard charge texting number. This means if you have free texts as part of your mobile plan, texting us shouldn’t cost you anything extra.

Will texting be anonymous?

Yes. We offer our service using the 116SMS platform, which is an anonymous texting service that other services similar to ourselves, such as the Samaritans, also use.

For us, anonymity is the most appealing part of 116SMS. You can reach our volunteers by texting a normal 07 mobile number. When a text Nightline’s number, your number is encrypted and we are given an anonymous “client” number. This way, volunteers cannot see your number, but they can see if you have used the service before.

Like with our phones, our volunteers are unable to trace your number. This means you must text us your number and location if you want us to know where you are in an emergency situation.

When can I text you?

Our texting service is available night from 6pm to 8am every night of term (including weekends). If you text us outside of those hours, you will get an automatic reply and we’ll get back to you next time we open.

We support about 40 universities. Term dates vary from university to university, but we try to cover as much of the year as possible with our terms. We close the lines outside of term-time because it’s tricky to get student volunteers to staff the lines during that time. Below are the specific dates that we’re open this year (we’ve added 6 weeks of opening time to cover more of the year!)

Term Dates for 2016-17
Term 1: 10/09/2018 – 14/12/2018
Term 2: 07/01/2019 – 08/04/2019
Term 3: 23/04/2019 – 21/06/2019

When you’re closed, who can I text?


Here are some resources you can reach by instant messaging or text during the daytime. They offer support or information much like we do, other than that they are not student run services:

Samaritans
for immediate confidential listening support. Their texting service is currently not running at full capacity, but you can check here for updates.
Text: 07725 90 90 90
Website: www.samaritans.org

The Mix
for information and access to other youth support services
Find their webchat options here.
Email: help@themix.org.uk
Website for support forums and more

7 Cups of Tea
for peer-to-peer chat listening and support 24/7. Logon and chat via their website (note: not text)
Website: www.7cupsoftea.com

You can also still email us at listening@nightline.org.uk for a support reply within 48 hours.