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Amsterdam Project Pays Alcoholics with Beer

Amsterdam Project Pays Alcoholics with Beer

The Rainbow Foundation project decided to kill two birds with one stone and employed alcoholics to clean the streets

An Amsterdam project hopes to keep alcoholics busy by employing them and paying them with beer.

Is it ethical to pay an alcoholic with beer? A Dutch project seems to thinks so.

AFP reports that the Rainbow Foundation project has decided to "employ" a group of alcoholics to clean streets, paying them with €10 a day... and five cans of beer.

"This group of chronic alcoholics was causing a nuisance in Amsterdam's Oosterpark: fights, noise, disagreeable comments to women," Gerrie Holterman, of the Raindow Foundation project, told AFP. "The aim is to keep them occupied, to get them doing something so they no longer cause trouble at the park."

The day for the men starts at 9 a.m. with two beers and a coffee. There's a lunch break with another two beers, and a final beer at the day's end at 3:30 p.m.

"I think I can speak for the group and say that if they didn't give us beers then we wouldn't come," one man said. The men do show up and work, however, voluntarily.

Some people question the ethics of giving alcoholics beer (like giving junkies their fix), but generally, the neighborhood — and the men — seem satisfied. "They're no longer in the park, they drink less, they eat better, and they have something to keep them busy during the day," Holterman said. And the beer given is 5 percent, a lower ABV than what the men normally drink, one worker reports. It might not be a cure for chronic alcoholism, but perhaps it's a step in the right direction?


Amsterdam pays alcoholics in beer to clean streets

Amsterdam: At nine o'clock in the morning in a garden shed behind a house in Amsterdam, a handful of alcoholics are getting ready to clean the surrounding streets, beer and cigarette in hand.

For a day's work, the men receive 10 euros (around $13), a half-packet of rolling tobacco and, most importantly, five cans of beer: two to start the day, two at lunch and one for after work.

"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," she told AFP.

The alcoholics are split into two groups of around 10 people, with each group working three days a week.

The imaginative approach to the problem of anti-social behaviour demonstrates typical Dutch pragmatism which could be found shocking in other countries, but not here.

The day begins at around 9:00 am, with the workers drinking two beers and some coffee, if desired, before going to clean the streets.

Sat at a large table, Gerrie carefully notes each person's beer consumption, but there is an atmosphere of trust: if she gets called away, the alcoholics themselves record how much they have drunk.

"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, wearing a fluorescent street cleaner's bib and carrying a bin bag and litter-grabber.

"We need alcohol to function, that's the disadvantage of chronic alcoholism," said the 45-year-old, somewhat fatalistically.

Frank says he has been jailed for violence, has never worked for anyone and has no fixed abode.

'Gives our lives structure'

For lunch, the team returns to the shed where they get two beers and a warm meal, before heading off again for the afternoon shift.

The working day ends with a final beer at around 3:30 pm.

"You have to see things like this: everyone benefits," said Gerrie.

"They're no longer in the park, they drink less, they eat better and they have something to keep them busy during the day."

"Heroin addicts can go to shooting galleries, so why shouldn't we also give people beer?" she said.

Project participants also say they are happy to be there, all taking part voluntarily.

"It gives our lives some structure," said one alcoholic who asked not to be named.

"Lots of us haven't had any structure in our lives for years, we just don't know what it is, and so this is good for us," said Frank.

People living in the neighbourhood also seem happy, greeting the cleaners as they work.

"They're doing something useful instead of hanging out in the park," said a woman stood on her doorstep, declining to give her name.

Opinions however differ about how much the work affects the group's drinking habits.

"When I get home, I've already had a busy day and I don't necessarily want to drink," said Vincent, 48, a former baker.

"We also feel satisfied, a job well done, contributing to society despite the fact that we drink," he said.

"What's also good is that the beer they give us is light, 5 percent, not 11 percent or 12 percent like I used to drink," he said.

"Of course we drink in a more structured way, but I don't think that we drink less," he said. "When we leave here, we go to the supermarket and transform the 10 euros we earned into beers. "

And when the group isn't working, the old habits return.

"When the supermarket opens at 8:00 am, we're the first there so we can get some drinks," he said.


Amsterdam’s Plan to Pay Alcoholics in Beer is Just ‘Dutch Pragmatism’

An unusual Dutch initiative aims to put an end to one of Amsterdam’s worst nuisances — those bawdy, loitering alcoholics — by employing them in a kind of street cleaning corps. The problem, though, is that the state-financed Rainbow Foundation behind the project pays the self-professed chronic alcoholics in beer for their labor.

"The aim is to keep them occupied, to get them doing something so they no longer cause trouble at the park," Gerrie Holterman, who heads the Rainbow Foundation, told AFP, referring to Amsterdam’s Oosterpark, an apparent favorite haunt of the alcoholics. And at least some of the participants agree on the apparent benefits of the initiative. One man in the program named Frank told AFP, "Lots of us haven’t had any structure in our lives for years, we just don’t know what it is, and so this is good for us."

But by offering positive reinforcement to Amsterdam alocholics’ worst tendencies, the weirdly commonsense solution to the problem of drunks causing a ruckus in public parks raises some serious ethical questions. The two groups of about ten people work three days a week cleaning city streets and are paid ten euros a day for their labor, along with a half-packet of rolling tobacco and five cans of beer. The men start the day off with two cans, have another two at lunch, and finish off with a last can in the afternoon. Did being an alcoholic ever pay so well?

The AFP article suggests that the program is symptomatic of what it calls "Dutch pragmatism." While the article doesn’t elaborate on what that exactly means, it is probably an allusion to the kind of permissiveness behind the country’s famously lax drug and prostitution laws. "The Dutch tend to think that it will happen anyway, whether they prohibit it or not," a 2001 BBC article on Dutch permissiveness argued. "The logic is simple — tolerate it, rather than prohibit it and subsequently lose control." It was this rationale that was reportedly behind the legalization in the Netherlands of prostitution, "soft drugs," and even euthanasia ("under strict conditions"). But that philosophy is by no means a uniquely Dutch philosophy. The same logic underpin a number of other initiatives to combat social problems in other countries also. Publicly funded "sex boxes" built in Zurich, for example, aim to give sex workers a safe and contained place in which to work. Several U.S. cities have established clean needle exchanges to combat the spread of HIV among needle drug users and the public healthcare costs associated with it.

But the new Amsterdam program has taken that "pragmatism" to a new height that no doubt some will find problematic. Paying alcoholics in beer doesn’t just turn a blind eye to the problem in the name of practicality but turns it into labor that benefits the city, even at the risk of worsening these alcoholics’ drinking problem. The plan highlights a problematic quality of so-called "Dutch pragmatism": If a government really does subscribe to the premise that social ills like alcoholism are inevitable, then can it be implicated in encouraging it, even if it’s part of a scheme that obviously profits the city? In other words, if cities are free from the burden of correcting social ills because they are inevitable, are they also free from the guilt of potentially worsening it?

"You have to see things like this: everyone benefits," Holterman, the head of the Rainbow Foundation, told AFP about the program. The obvious rejoinder to that sunny Dutch optimism — or, wait, was it pragmatism? — is whether the alcoholics really benefit. The family members of the alcoholics cleaning the benches of the Oosterpark might not be so overjoyed that the government is validating their decision to drink.

They might still have some hope that their alcoholic father, brother, or son might still get sober.


Amsterdam Project Pays Alcoholics with Beer - Recipes

A controversial program in Amsterdam is paying alcoholics partly in beer to clean litter off the streets.

NBC reports the initiative has some government funding and gives the alcoholics five cans of beer a day, rolling tobacco, a hot lunch and the equivalent of about $13 in euros.

One of the project's leaders told NBC the program gives the alcoholics, who normally sit on the street, something to do.

She also told the BBC: "It's quite difficult to get these people off the alcohol completely. We have tried everything else. We might not make them better, but we are giving them a better quality of life."

In January, The New York Times reported other cities in the Netherlands were looking into adopting the program as well.

The paper also points out some conservative lawmakers in Amsterdam have called the program a waste of government money, saying the program shows tolerance for alcohol abuse.

But the project leader with the program says the alcoholics don't get enough beer to make them drunk. She also says she hopes the program helps them make positive changes in their lives.


Amsterdam Is Paying Alcoholics in Beer

Some countries leave their alcoholics to sleep in the streets. The Netherlands gives theirs beer as payment for cleaning them.

Yes, the land of the pot coffee shops is also home to a government-funded program called the Rainbow Foundation Project pays about 20 "chronic alcoholics" 10 euros, some rolling tobacco and, most importantly, five cans of beer for a day's work cleaning Amsterdam's streets, according to the AFP.

Gerrie Holterman, who's in charge of the program, thinks it's a great way to keep the otherwise bothersome alcoholics busy doing something useful. "This group of chronic alcoholics was causing a nuisance in Amsterdam's Oosterpark: fights, noise, disagreeable comments to women," she said. "The aim is to keep them occupied, to get them doing something so they no longer cause trouble at the park."

They work three days a week, earning beer throughout the day (two at the beginning of the shift, two at lunch, and one to take home), and the participants interviewed for the article seemed pretty happy about the whole thing. One said he spent his 10 euros on more alcohol once the work day was finished. But another said he didn't want to drink after spending the day hard at work, which could be a problem if his relative teetotalism causes him to be less dependent on alcohol and thus no longer qualified to participate in the program.

The program may seem counter intuitive to some, but Holterman doesn't see the problem with supplying alcoholics with the source of their addiction: "Heroin addicts can go to shooting galleries, so why shouldn't we also give people beer?"

And the AFP article called it an "imaginative approach to the problem of anti-social behaviour" that "demonstrates typical Dutch pragmatism which could be found shocking in other countries." So if you think giving alcoholics alcohol is a bad thing, then maybe you should stop and think about your hatred of pragmatism.

According to the World Health Organization's 2011 report, harmful use of alcohol kills 2.5 million people every year.

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Amsterdam program pays chronic alcoholics in beer to clean city streets

Alcoholics in Amsterdam are being paid in beer to clean the Dutch city's streets.

Boozers are being given $13, half a pouch of rolling tobacco and five cans of special brew if they turn up for a six-and-a-half-hour shift.

They also get a hot meal during their lunch break.

The scheme, run by the Rainbow Foundation project, has come under fire from critics who say it is "using" the addicts for menial work and isn't trying to help them kick their habits.

But organizers say it is proving key to cutting down on anti-social behavior as the drunks are kept busy and have less time to cause trouble.

"This group of chronic alcoholics was causing a nuisance in Amsterdam's Oosterpark: fights, noise, disagreeable comments to women," initiative boss Gerrie Holterman told AFP.

"The aim is to keep them occupied, to get them doing something. Heroin addicts can go to shooting galleries, so why shouldn't we also give people beer?" she added.

Alcoholics arrive at 9 a.m. and are handed two cans of 5% beer, with coffee, before work. For lunch they are handed another two cans, alongside a hot meal.

The day finishes at 3:30 p.m. when they are sent away with another can.

Some boozers say the project hasn't affected their alcohol intake, but that they so drink in a "more structured way."


Amsterdam employs alcoholics as street cleaners and pays them in beer

Amsterdam has launched a government-funded scheme which uses chronic alcoholics as street cleaners – and pays them in beer.

The project, organised by the Rainbow Foundation charity and paid for by Dutch state subsidies and donations, rounds up alcoholics who have been “causing a nuisance” in parks and puts them to work.

They clean three days a week, from 9am to around 3.30pm, and are paid €10 (around £8), five cans of beer and half a packet of loose tobacco per shift.

The alcoholics are split up into groups of 10, and their beer consumption is carefully monitored.

“The aim is to keep them occupied, to get them doing something so they no longer cause trouble at the park,” the charity’s chief executive Gerrie Holterman told the AFP news agency.

“This group of chronic alcoholics was causing a nuisance in Amsterdam's Oosterpark: fights, noise, disagreeable comments to women,” she said.

The workers are given two cans of beer and coffee if they want it at the start of the day, followed by another two cans and a hot meal at lunch.

One alcoholic, named Frank, told an AFP reporter: “I think I can speak for the group and say that if they didn't give us beers then we wouldn't come.

“We need alcohol to function, that's the disadvantage of chronic alcoholism,” the 45-year-old said.

Frank said the added structure to the alcoholics’ lives “is good for us”. But he was under no illusions as to whether or not the scheme would serve to wean the workers off drink.

“Of course we drink in a more structured way, but I don't think that we drink less,” he said.

“When we leave here, we go to the supermarket and transform the €10 euros we earned into beers.”

On the four days his group is not working, Frank added, nothing seems to have changed. “When the supermarket opens at 8:00am, we're the first there so we can get some drinks,” he said.


Amsterdam pays alcoholics in beer to clean city streets

FOR a day's hard work, alcoholics are getting $14, some tobacco and five beers - two to start the day, two at lunch and one for after work.

Amsterdam has taken the unconventional step of paying alcoholics in beer so that they can be productive members of society. Picture: Brad Hunter Source:News Corp Australia

AT NINE o'clock in the morning in a garden shed behind a house in Amsterdam, a handful of alcoholics are getting ready to clean the surrounding streets, with a beer and cigarette in hand.

For a day&aposs work, the men receive 10 euros (around $14), a half-packet of rolling tobacco and, most importantly, five cans of beer: two to start the day, two at lunch and one for after work.

"This group of chronic alcoholics was causing a nuisance in Amsterdam&aposs 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," she said.

The alcoholics are split into two groups of around 10 people, with each group working three days a week.

The imaginative approach to the problem of anti-social behaviour demonstrates typical Dutch pragmatism which could be found shocking in other countries, but not in Amsterdam.

The day begins at around 9am, with the workers drinking two beers and some coffee, if desired, before going to clean the streets.

Sat at a large table, Ms Holterman carefully notes each person&aposs beer consumption, but there is an atmosphere of trust: if she gets called away, the alcoholics themselves record how much they have drunk.

"I think I can speak for the group and say that if they didn&apost give us beers then we wouldn&apost come," said Frank, wearing a fluorescent street cleaner&aposs bib and carrying a bin bag and litter-grabber.

"We need alcohol to function, that&aposs the disadvantage of chronic alcoholism," said the 45-year-old, somewhat fatalistically.

Frank says he has been jailed for violence, has never worked for anyone and has no fixed abode.

For lunch, the team returns to the shed where they get two beers and a warm meal, before heading off again for the afternoon shift.

The working day ends with a final beer at around 3.30pm.

"You have to see things like this: everyone benefits," said Ms Holterman..

"They&aposre no longer in the park, they drink less, they eat better and they have something to keep them busy during the day."

"Heroin addicts can go to shooting galleries, so why shouldn&apost we also give people beer?" she said.

Project participants also say they are happy to be there, all taking part voluntarily.

"It gives our lives some structure," said one alcoholic who asked not to be named.

"Lots of us haven&apost had any structure in our lives for years, we just don&apost know what it is, and so this is good for us," said Frank.

People living in the neighbourhood also seem happy, greeting the cleaners as they work.

"They&aposre doing something useful instead of hanging out in the park," said a woman stood on her doorstep, declining to give her name.

Opinions however differ about how much the work affects the group&aposs drinking habits.

"When I get home, I&aposve already had a busy day and I don&apost necessarily want to drink," said Vincent, 48, a former baker.

"We also feel satisfied, a job well done, contributing to society despite the fact that we drink," he said.

"What&aposs also good is that the beer they give us is light, 5 per cent, not 11 per cent or 12 per cent like I used to drink," he said.

"Of course we drink in a more structured way, but I don&apost think that we drink less," he said.

"When we leave here, we go to the supermarket and transform the 10 euros we earned into beers. "

And when the group isn&apost working, the old habits return.

"When the supermarket opens at 8am, we&aposre the first there so we can get some drinks," he said.


Amsterdam pays alcoholics in beer to clean streets

AT NINE O’CLOCK in the morning in a garden shed behind a house in Amsterdam, a handful of alcoholics are getting ready to clean the surrounding streets, beer and cigarette in hand.

For a day’s work, the men receive €10, a half-packet of rolling tobacco and, most importantly, five cans of beer: two to start the day, two at lunch and one for after work.

“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,” she told AFP.

The alcoholics are split into two groups of around 10 people, with each group working three days a week.

Shocking or pragmatic?

This approach to the problem of anti-social behaviour demonstrates typical Dutch pragmatism which could be found shocking in other countries, but not here.

The day begins at around 9am, with the workers drinking two beers and some coffee, if desired, before going to clean the streets.

Sat at a large table, Gerrie carefully notes each person’s beer consumption, but there is an atmosphere of trust: if she gets called away, the alcoholics themselves record how much they have drunk.

“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, wearing a fluorescent street cleaner’s bib and carrying a bin bag and litter-grabber.

“We need alcohol to function, that’s the disadvantage of chronic alcoholism,” said the 45-year-old.

Frank says he has been jailed for violence, has never worked for anyone and has no fixed abode.

‘Gives our lives structure’

For lunch, the team returns to the shed where they get two beers and a warm meal, before heading off again for the afternoon shift.

The working day ends with a final beer at around 3.30pm.

“You have to see things like this: everyone benefits,” said Gerrie.

“Heroin addicts can go to shooting galleries, so why shouldn’t we also give people beer?” she said.

Project participants also say they are happy to be there, all taking part voluntarily.

“It gives our lives some structure,” said one alcoholic who asked not to be named.

“Lots of us haven’t had any structure in our lives for years, we just don’t know what it is, and so this is good for us,” said Frank.

Opinions differ

People living in the neighbourhood also seem happy, greeting the cleaners as they work.

“They’re doing something useful instead of hanging out in the park,” said a woman stood on her doorstep, declining to give her name.

Opinions however differ about how much the work affects the group’s drinking habits.

“When I get home, I’ve already had a busy day and I don’t necessarily want to drink,” said Vincent, 48, a former baker.

“We also feel satisfied, a job well done, contributing to society despite the fact that we drink,” he said.

“What’s also good is that the beer they give us is light, 5 per cent, not 11 per cent or 12 per cent like I used to drink,” he said.

Frank is more sceptical. He said:

And when the group isn’t working, the old habits return.

“When the supermarket opens at 8am, we’re the first there so we can get some drinks,” he said.


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