Inside Bibby Stockholm: What life will be like for migrants on board the barge

The UK government is housing migrants on the vessel while their asylum claims are processed

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Amid a series of safety and overcrowding fears, as well as a series of delays, the first residents boarded the Bibby Stockholm barge docked in Portland off the coast of Dorset on Monday.

With the UK government housing migrants on the vessel while their asylum claims are processed, we take a look at what the living conditions will be like on the barge.

What will the rooms be like?

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

But there are also 20 larger rooms that can sleep four people and two rooms that can house six people.

What entertainment will migrants have?

The bedrooms all have televisions which the operator was told to disconnect but were too costly to remove, so they 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.

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.

First asylum seekers board Bibby Stockholm barge - in pictures

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

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

The migrants will not have a curfew but are expected to sleep on board 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.

How many staff will be on board?

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

The barge is being run by Landry and Kling, a subcontractor of Corporate Travel Management 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.

How long will migrants be on board?

With an initial 18-month contract for the barge being kept under review, asylum seekers will spend up to nine months on board.

But officials admitted they could end up back in hotels if no other suitable alternative accommodation was identified by the end of that time period.

What support will Dorset Council receive?

Dorset Council is receiving £3,500 ($4,474) 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.

Updated: August 08, 2023, 7:16 AM