What will life be like for migrants aboard the Bibby Stockholm barge?

August 07, 2023 04:54 PM AEST | By PAMEDIA
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Migrants have begun arriving on the Bibby Stockholm barge docked in Portland off the coast of Dorset as part of a government plan to house asylum seekers while their claims are processed.

After a series of delays, the first residents boarded on Monday amid continued safety and overcrowding fears centring on plans to house about 500 people on the ship.

Here PA looks at the living conditions they can expect on the controversial barge.

– What will their rooms be like?

Most of the 222 bedrooms have twin bunk beds, with cupboard space, a desk, en-suite bathroom, heating and windows which open.

But there are also 20 larger rooms which would sleep four people, and two rooms housing six people.

Migrant accommodation
Residents will be encouraged to socialise or watch programmes and films in one of four communal TV rooms (Andrew Matthews/PA)

– What entertainment will they have?

The bedrooms all have televisions which the operator was told to disconnect but were too costly to remove so can be used only as monitors.

Instead, residents will be encouraged to socialise or watch programmes and films in one of four communal TV rooms, and can also learn English in a classroom and worship in a dedicated space.

A small number of laptops are also available and there is wi-fi throughout the barge.

Migrant accommodation
Migrants can expect a varied diet to be served from the barge’s kitchen (Andrew Matthews/PA)

– What is on the menu?

Migrants can expect a varied diet to be served in the barge’s canteen by Connect Catering.

A sample menu provided to journalists included spaghetti with meatballs, roast turkey, Irish stew and beef pie.

A selection of snacks will be available 24 hours a day.

Migrant accommodation
Migrants will be able to use a gym equipped with treadmills, weights and exercise bikes (Andrew Matthews/PA)

– Will they be able to exercise?

Migrants will be able to use a gym equipped with treadmills, weights, rowing machines and exercise bikes.

Team sports, including volleyball, basketball, netball and football, can be played in one of two outside courtyards

Migrant accommodation
Migrants will be able to use an hourly bus service with stops in the surrounding area between 7am and 11pm (Ben Birchall/PA)

– Will migrants be able to leave the boat and visit the mainland

The migrants will not have a curfew but are expected to sleep onboard overnight.

They will be able to use an hourly bus service with stops in the surrounding area between 7am and 11pm, with migrants also free to leave on foot if they choose once outside the port compound.

But inside the perimeter, they must board a shuttle bus to be taken from the barge to the gate because of safety rules inside the working port.

Migrant accommodation
There will be round-the-clock security on the site, consisting of 18 guards trained to military standard taking shifts in groups of six (Andrew Matthews/PA)

– How many staff will be on board?

In total, there will be around 60 staff on board, including cooks and cleaners.

The barge is being run by Landry and Kling, a sub-contractor of Corporate Travel Management (CTM) which has also managed vessels in Scotland housing Ukrainians.

There will also be round-the-clock security on the site, consisting of 18 guards trained to military standard taking shifts in groups of six.

The security staff will be backed up by CCTV surveillance, and police if needed.

– What support will Dorset Council receive?

Dorset Council is receiving £3,500 per occupied bedspace on the Bibby Stockholm, with additional funding provided to local NHS services and police, the Home Office said.

It is understood the council has also received almost £380,000 in a one-off grant to help support local charity and voluntary organisations provide services on board.


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