Around 135 asylum seekers currently reside aboard the Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset, as reported by local activists.

Stand Up To Racism Dorset and the Portland Global Friendship Group convened to welcome the newcomers at the port gates during a recent gathering. Simultaneously, the No To The Barge group staged a protest, expressing concerns about the barge’s impact on the local area.

Heather, the coordinator of the Portland Global Friendship Group, revealed to that the number of individuals placed on the barge is increasing. “I’m aware of 135 individuals, but more arrived on Friday, so the count will be higher,” she stated, opting not to disclose her full name. “There’s a sizable population on board, adjusting to life, and some have found it quite challenging.”

In October, some migrants had to return to Bibby Stockholm due to a legionella bacteria outbreak after being evacuated. Heather highlighted issues raised by asylum seekers living on board, mentioning claims of disconnected televisions in each bedroom. “There are no activities on the barge—the TVs are disconnected. The Home Office mentioned it’s to encourage socializing among the residents. But meaningful activities are lacking,” she explained.

The Home Office has been contacted for a response. Meanwhile, a volunteer group is organising events for asylum seekers five days a week. “We arrange conversation clubs, fishing trips, sports groups—various activities facilitated by volunteers. We now have over 70 individuals engaging with us, and the numbers increase as more people arrive,” Heather shared.

Some asylum seekers have also started volunteering themselves. “Many are eager to integrate with the community and participate in various initiatives. Some assist the homeless by distributing hot meals, volunteer in charity shops, or aid local organisations,” Heather mentioned. “There’s even an individual developing websites for community groups on the island, utilising their skills to contribute to and enhance our community.”

In a separate demonstration, about a dozen protesters from the No To The Barge group marched. The group expressed discontent in a statement, asserting that the people of Portland, Dorset, are frustrated and displeased with the socially divisive and unsupported mooring of the Bibby Barge in their area.

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