Program In Germany Will Pay Alcoholics Beer To Clean Up City Streets

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A new taxpayer-funded program called “Pick-up” is set to launch mid-June this year in western Germany and will offer alcoholics some work in return for beer, The Local reports. The initiative planned by the a charity called Addict Support Essen will also give the volunteers—mostly long-term alcoholics— food, medical treatment, and “pocket money” of €1.25 (or about $1.70) per hour to work for three to six hours picking up city litter.

The charity says its goal is not to encourage or promote alcoholism but rather to find an innovative—and realistic—way to help a group of people to find help and give back to the community at the same time.

The aim of the programme is not to supply people with beer,” read a statement by the charity. “For the participants it is about a meaningful daily structure, feeling useful and learning a new way to behave.”

As far as the program being partially funded by taxpayer money? Addict Support Essen understands the controversy and mixed feelings many will have knowing that the government is using funds to pay those with alcohol addiction with alcohol, but the charity likens the cause to helping other people in need and says it’s a more cost-effective method to spending money in “other areas”. Plus, a charity spokesman says, it’s a necessary evil if they want the program to work.

Some of them simply need the bottle of beer to become fit for work,” Addict Support spokesman Bärbel Marrziniak said. “If we didn’t give it to them, they would not turn up in the first place.”

Addict Support Essen isn’t the first initiative to pay alcoholics in beer hoping to offer both a less radical remedial treatment and help keep the community clean. The idea follows suit of a program Amsterdam launched by the Rainbow Foundation, which gives workers 10 euros (around $13 U.S.), a half-packet of rolling tobacco and five cans of beer for a day’s job. The Dutch program has reportedly been in successful in accomplishing a mutually beneficial system for both alcoholics and community, and Addict Support Essen hopes to accomplish similar results.

The charity reported that one-year trial of the program is set to launch in mid-June of this year, and a medical observer will be assigned to evaluate results with the participants.