York Nightline is one of many Nightlines that operate up and down the country, providing the same quality of service to over 1.5 million students in over 90 UK universities.  Discover the history of Nightline, both in York and on a national level, on our timeline below.

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In May 1970 at Essex University, an ex-director of the Colchester Samaritans and a Chaplain noticed the high suicide rate among local students. They decided to train a group of students to give their peers someone to talk to. A telephone was installed in an empty campus bedroom and the students ran a helpline, during the night. Thus, the first ever Nightline began.

The idea quickly caught on. In 1971 it was exported to Imperial College London. In subsequent years many more Nightlines were set up all over the country. In every case the core principles of the organisations stayed the same: confidential, anonymous, non-assumptive, non-judgemental, non-directive and run by students for students. Every Nightline remains fully committed to these principles nearly forty years on.

There are now over 40 UK Nightlines in universities ranging from Exeter to St Andrews. There are even Nightlines in America, Canada and Germany. All rely entirely on students devoting their time to be trained, do nightly duties, answer calls and train new volunteers in turn. There are estimated to be around 1500 Nightline volunteers in Britain.


York Nightline has been open since 1972, when it was somewhere in Wentworth. We moved into Vanbrugh in 1979, and were situated in a small flat behind the porters’ lodge. In 1997 we moved into a new flat in Wentworth College to mark our 25th anniversary. The flat was then taken under the wing of Goodricke College, though the location did not change. In summer 2009, Goodricke College moved to the new Heslington East site, and so the Nightline flat (which did not move) became a part of Wentworth College. After moving off-campus in 2014, we moved back to Heslington West. Our flat is now in Grimston House, Vanbrugh.