Niteline funding may be cut due to problems with the service

DCU Students’ Union are considering cutting funding to the student listening service, Niteline next year, due to problems with the organisation this year. The College View has learned.

The SU pays an annual fee to be a member of the service and Welfare Officer Neil Collins believes the €4,500 membership fee could be spent on more helpful mental health services and campaigns around the DCU campus.

Collins had a number of meetings with Niteline over the past number of weeks and told The College View he will recommend to incoming SU President Aaron Clogher and incoming Welfare Officer Lorna Finnegan “that they don’t continue with membership for the coming year”.

He revealed how the SU had little insight into how the organisation was run this year. He highlighted an occasion where he had attempted to organise a comedy gig and have representatives from Niteline speak at the event. However after initial contact Niteline stopped replying to his emails and the event never took place.

Mental health was a key area of focus for the SU this year and Collins is eager not to have this cut seen as an attack by the SU on mental health services. “I would love if niteline was working well for DCU”, he told The College View describing how he feels 90% of students here don’t know about the service.

SU President Paul Doherty told The College View “In Trinity obviously it’s very active because that’s where their offices are based… obviously they don’t have resources to push it here”.

Doherty also revealed how funding was almost cut last year but when the matter was put to the SU Executive it was decided to give the service a year to see whether it took action on its aims.

“They came in and put forward a proposal of what they were going to do and if these weren’t met we’d consider taking a vote on our membership and nothing was done”, he said. “They were talking about an app, talking about loads of things – none of it happened.”

The non-judgemental service does not give advice but rather helps a caller discuss a situation and work through things in order to come to their own conclusion. The outgoing SU President says the SU will push to make good quality mental health services accessible to students but believes it important to promote mental fitness so that they don’t come to need these types of services.

“I do feel slightly bad taking any service away from students, especially in these times, but I think we can pick it up here”, he said. “We’re not just trying to save money… I just think the money could be better directed towards more students on the ground here.”

DCU’s Counselling Service provides confidential, free, one-to-one counselling and specialist help to all DCU-registered students. Anyone who feels they may benefit from this support can make an appointment to see a counsellor through the DCU website or by dropping into the Student Advice Centre in the Henry Grattan Building.

Niteline is a confidential and anonymous listening, support and information service run by students for students every night during term time from 9pm to 2:30am. Other affiliated third-level institutes include TCD, RCSI and NCAD.

Due to the anonymous nature of the site, DCU SU do not know how many calls the service receives from DCU students each term or how many volunteers from DCU work with the service.

When contacted by The College View, a Niteline co-ordinator said the organisation have been “looking into ways to increase publicity in DCU”. Of an online listening service they now offer, they said it is “very much seen as a big part of the future of our service”.

Sarah Bermingham

Image Credit: Annemarie Kelly

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