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Amsterdam Paying Alcoholics in Beers to Clean up Streets

Update Date: Nov 21, 2013 04:14 PM EST
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In many countries, government programs and initiatives have been created over the past years in order to discourage the use of substances such as tobacco and alcohol. Despite these campaigns, in the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, alcoholics are currently being paid in beers for cleaning up the streets. According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP), men are being offered 10 euros, which is equivalent to around 13 dollars for a day of work. On top of the monetary gain, the men will also be given a half-packet of rolling tobacco and five cans of beer.

"This group of chronic alcoholics was causing a nuisance in Amsterdam's Oosterpark: fights, noise, disagreeable comments to women," said Gerrie Holterman, who heads the Rainbow Foundation project, financed by the Dutch state and donations. "The aim is to keep them occupied, to get them doing something so they no longer cause trouble at the park."

The program splits the alcoholics into two groups composed of around 10 people each. The schedule allows each group to work three days per week. The work day starts at 9:00am when the alcoholics are give their first two cans of beer along with coffee if requested. After the morning shift, the entire team returns to the shed and the people are given their third and fourth cans of beer. They are also provided with a warm meal before doing the afternoon shift. The day ends at 3:30 PM and the last can of beer is given to them.

"I think I can speak for the group and say that if they didn't give us beers then we wouldn't come," said Frank, 45-years-old."We need alcohol to function, that's the disadvantage of chronic alcoholism. Lots of us haven't had any structure in our lives for years, we don't known what it is, and so this is good for us."

"You have to see things like this: everyone benefits," Holterman explained. "They're no longer in the park, they drink less, they eat better and they have something to keep them busy during the day."

Even though the program appears to help both parties, there are some critics that are not sold on the fact that the city is providing alcoholics with their vice instead of helping them quit.

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