News

Management consultant who lived on Bibby Stockholm migrant barge while working on an oil and gas project in Shetland Isles says he quit the job because conditions on board were so bad


  • Howard Russell says the atmosphere onboard had an effect on his mental health

A management consultant who used to live on the Bibby Stockholm migrant barge says he quit his job just to ‘escape’ because conditions on board were so bad.

Howard Russell, 67, lived in the barge for three weeks in 2013 while working on an oil and gas project on the Shetland Isles.

He says the difficult atmosphere onboard had an effect on his mental health and left him unable to sleep or function at work.

The barge – formerly a prison – has since been repurposed as a floating home for asylum seekers. It is currently located in Portland Port, Dorset.

Howard, from Doncaster, South Yorkshire, said: ‘Staying there had an effect on my mental health.

Howard Russell, 67, lived in the barge for three weeks in 2013 while working on an oil and gas project on the Shetland Isles.

Howard Russell, 67, lived in the barge for three weeks in 2013 while working on an oil and gas project on the Shetland Isles.

The barge - formerly a prison - has since been repurposed as a floating home for asylum seekers. It is currently located in Portland Port, Dorset. (stock image)

The barge – formerly a prison – has since been repurposed as a floating home for asylum seekers. It is currently located in Portland Port, Dorset. (stock image)

‘I couldn’t function at work. It was difficult with the lack of sleep and segregation feeling of it.

‘It was just horrible – no one was happy. There was no atmosphere. It was dead, especially when you found out it was previously used as a prison.

‘The main problem was the barge didn’t have its own power so there were huge generators outside which were very noisy, and it was very difficult to sleep at night.

‘My sympathies are with [the asylum applicants]. I don’t know how many hundreds are on there but I just don’t think it would work.

‘I just remember I walked out of the job and went straight to the local airport and went home.’

Howard stayed on the boat for three weeks in April 2013.

Howard Russell said: 'I couldn't function at work. It was difficult with the lack of sleep and segregation feeling of it'

Howard Russell said: ‘I couldn’t function at work. It was difficult with the lack of sleep and segregation feeling of it’

A view of the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland Port, pictured on January 26, 2024

A view of the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland Port, pictured on January 26, 2024 

Inside one of the rooms on the Bibby Stockholm barge in 2023

Inside one of the rooms on the Bibby Stockholm barge in 2023

The first asylum seekers were brought back to the barge, moored in Portland, Dorset, in October

The first asylum seekers were brought back to the barge, moored in Portland, Dorset, in October 

A photo of a TV room on the barge, which was previously used to house offshore workers

A photo of a TV room on the barge, which was previously used to house offshore workers 

At the time, the Bibby Stockholm was based in Lerwick and being used to house contractors working on a gas plant project.

He says most of the contractors living on the boat were engineers and estimates around 50 people were staying on the boat at the time.

It has space for up to 222 people, according to information online.

But he says that despite the relatively small number of people living onboard, the conditions still felt cramped.

‘It seemed OK at first, all the rooms were self-contained and still had a peephole in the door which was a bit off-putting from when it was used as prison,’ said Howard.

‘The seating area in the canteen was very packed, it was fixed tables with benches so inevitably you would be jammed up very close to other people which was not pleasant.

‘It’s just got a hemmed in type feeling, it’s purely industrial and I seem to remember it was quite cold.’

The Bibby Stockholm has been used for refugees since last August as MPs sought to find alternatives to hotel accommodation for those waiting for decisions on their applications.

But the vessel has been plagued with issues – including an outbreak of Legionella bacteria onboard – and in December, police confirmed one of the people onboard had died.

MailOnline has contacted the Home Office for comment.  



Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button