Amsterdam Paying Alcoholic Street Cleaners in Beer, Tobacco

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In an effort to keep alcoholics from causing mayhem in the streets, Amsterdam now has the addicts cleaning them, instead.

The Rainbow Foundation Project has alcoholics working an honest day’s labor in exchange for five beers, 10 euros (the equivalent of about 13 US dollars) and half a pouch of rolling tobacco.

“This group of chronic alcoholics was causing a nuisance in Amsterdam's Oosterpark: fights, noise, disagreeable comments to women. The aim is to keep them occupied, to get them doing something so they no longer cause trouble at the park,” said program manager Gerrie Holterman.

About 20 addicts are participating in the program; they are split into two groups, and each works three days per week.

The workday begins at 9 a.m., when participants are given two cans of beer as well as coffee. They are later served a hot lunch with two more beers, and then handed a fifth beer before heading home for the day.

"I think I can speak for the group and say that if they didn't give us beers then we wouldn't come," said a worker named Frank in an interview with Times Live.

Vincent, another participant, said, “When I get home, I've already had a busy day and I don't necessarily want to drink. We also feel satisfied, a job well done, contributing to society despite the fact that we drink.”

However, Frank denied drinking less. “When we leave here, we go to the supermarket and transform the 10 euros we earned into beers. When the supermarket opens at 8 a.m., we're the first there so we can get some drinks,” he said.

One anonymous woman seemed happy with the program, saying, "They're doing something useful instead of hanging out in the park.”

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

Sources: Times Live, Daily Mail