A bar will be opened on a cruise ship hosting Ukrainian refugees as part of efforts to create a “village” feel.
People seeking refuge due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine have been given temporary accommodation on the ship in Govan by the Scottish Government.
Ambassador, the ship’s owners, applied for an occasional licence to offer alcohol to the refugees staying at King George V docks on the River Clyde.
Glasgow’s Licensing Board quizzed the firm’s representative on security and support for the refugees before agreeing to grant the licence.
Niall Hassard, the licensing lawyer representing the applicant, said the licence application was part of a “holistic” approach, which includes providing education and health services.
“It’s not simply putting a bar on a boat,” he said. “It’s about creating this small village community to try and encourage people out of their cabins.”
The cruise ship has been chartered to provide accommodation for up to 1,750 people in over 714 cabins.
Mr Hassard said Ambassador has a “very professional onboard crew that operates cruise shops in international waters”and are working with a “very experienced” Scottish licensing expert to provide training to staff.
He said the “very impressive” vessel has various restaurants and lounges but “one distinct area” will be used as the bar. There will be no permission to take alcohol out of the bar or bring it onto the ship.
“It is hoped to create a village-style experience for them,” Mr Hassard said, adding the ship will have “various things you’d expect in a small village”. The bar will give the refugees the opportunity to come together as a community to “have a drink and relax”.
It is understood the bar area will accommodate 57 people but will be within a wider area which can take over 300. Mr Hassard said anti-social behaviour or drunken conduct wouldn’t be tolerated.
He said it was a “pressurised environment” which should be “treated with dignity first of all”.
Cllr Dan Hutchison, who represents Govan, said there is a bus that runs from the docks into the community. He asked whether refugees could consume alcohol off the boat.
Mr Hassard said security checks would be in place and, if there were concerns, the ship’s security master would come down to assess them.
Cllr Alex Wilson said: “These are people who are exceptionally vulnerable, they came from a place of conflict. They could be suffering from PTSD, loss of loved ones etc.
“My concern is we’re mixing alcohol with mental health, how are we going to make sure someone who is in a vulnerable state isn’t going to be consuming alcohol? They are then going back to a cabin where they may be isolated.”
A representative for Ambassador said safeguarding is “paramount” and the Scottish Government has an allocation process which assesses which people are most capable of living in that environment. Health care is available on board, he added.
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