Want to support our work? Donate
Skip to content
30 October 2023

Blog: Bibby Stockholm

by an asylum seeker in Home Office accommodation.

The thought of being moved to Bibby Stockholm is very frightening. My life stops for a moment to process the possibility of being accommodated in a three-storey vessel. As an asylum seeker, I’ve become well aware of the Home Office’s treatment, similar to the proverb of beggars, ‘beggars are not choosers’. Regrettably, I now understand what it actually means. It’s not as if I have the luxury of refusing this development; the Home Office’s stance is clear – if an asylum seeker dares to resist the relocation, they’re promptly relocated out of their current temporary accommodation. 

The concept of choosing where to live as an asylum seeker seems unrealistic but the Government’s approach to accommodate asylum seekers on the barge and in tents falls short of the intrinsic dignity of individuals seeking safety. The voice of asylum seekers in matters of accommodation ought to be considered and respected. After all, the journey to safety is often treacherous, and it’s disheartening to think that our voices are suppressed even when it comes to something as basic as where we lay our heads.

In the same vein, the Government should be keen to receive inputs on what safe routes  should look like from those who’ve arrived in the UK through unconventional routes. Only when that happens would we witness a monumental shift towards a more empathetic approach. Those of us who have navigated unfamiliar landscapes and endured traumatic experiences undoubtedly hold valuable insights that could contribute to shaping safer routes for upcoming asylum seekers. It’s only logical that the authorities engage a meaningful dialogue with those who’ve faced the most perilous of journeys to inform the creation of pathways that truly uphold the value of human life and dignity.

Yet, the reality on the ground paints a different picture. The UK Government’s approach seems to deliberately create a challenging and unwelcoming atmosphere for asylum seekers. We, who are fleeing life-threatening conditions in our homelands, encounter not just the harshness of an unfamiliar land, but also the intricate web of barriers and uncertainties that are designed to magnify our vulnerability. The issue of accommodation adds an additional layer of hardship to the already challenging journey of seeking asylum.

The choice of Bibby Stockholm, a barge, as accommodation for asylum seekers despite widespread criticism, shows the shortcomings of the system. In addition to the obvious lack of basic facilities for dignified living, it contributes to the poor mental and emotional well-being among those seeking safety. Being put in such a space, cut off from a community setting, only amplifies our sense of isolation and despair.

As we persist in navigating this challenging journey in pursuit of safety and security, I hold onto the aspiration that the UK government can move beyond its current stance. An asylum seeker’s story is not merely one of survival; it’s a testament to resilience, courage, and the enduring human spirit. It’s a narrative that deserves to be heard, acknowledged, and respected – especially when it comes to decisions as crucial as accommodation and safe passage. The journey is long, the challenges are vast, but the human potential for empathy, understanding, and change is boundless.