Beerment: Officials in Amsterdam pay homeless alcoholics with BEER to clean the streets


Get this… officials in Amsterdam are paying alcoholic homeless people with beer for cleaning the streets.

Officials in Amsterdam have come up with a novel way of tackling anti-social behaviour, by paying alcoholics beer to clean the streets. Groups of homeless participants in the Dutch capital are given five cans of lager a day before they start work. They are allowed to drink two cans before their shift begins, two at lunch and then another in the evening. Working up to three days a week; each person also receives €10 (£8.40) a shift, plus a half-packet of rolling tobacco. The pragmatic project, which is funded by the Dutch state and through donations, is the brainchild of the Rainbow Foundation. Gerrie Holterman, who heads the group, said the work keeps the group busy and means they drink less.

This group of chronic alcoholics was causing a nuisance in Amsterdam’s Oosterpark: fights, noise, disagreeable comments to women,’ she told AFP. ‘The aim is to keep them occupied, to get them doing something so they no longer cause trouble at the park.’ She added: ‘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?’

While many said the project gave structure to their lives, another added: ‘I don’t think that we drink less. ‘When we leave here, we go to the supermarket and transform the €10 we earned into beers…’

Original article from Metro

For those who err on the flippant side, it may seem a good idea. But I have reservations. I understand that on the face of it, the results look positive… kind of.  They eat better and they’re busy in the day. I don’t really know what being in the park has to do with anything. The fact of the matter remains, however, that they are still alcoholics, and they’re still on the streets. And a simple self confession exposes the fact that they don’t drink less.

I think that a particular issue with western society these days is that we don’t like being apathetic about these issues, yet we’re equally not willing to get our hands dirty. The quote by Gerrie Holterman talking about the “shooting galleries” for Heroin addicts shows this to an extent. It’s an attitude of letting people get on, and allowing them to run full pelt down a slippery slope that actually will come back to bite us. It’s an attitude of only looking at the short term and not the bigger picture. It’s an attitude which is more focussed on individual comfort and satisfaction rather than a commitment to improving social welfare for the whole of a community, including those who are deemed unlovely or a nuisance. The bigger problem for me in this whole story is that there are people out on the street and having to cope with a very real problem; alcoholism.

Of course, where alcohol consumption is deemed as OK and sociable, attitudes towards alcohol can undermine the very real problem of binge drinking and addiction to alcohol.  Maybe this attitude has allowed people to come up with this flawed solution?

I don’t have all the answers for these situations, but I know in my knower that this story exposes quite a big problem; that some people are more concerned about the streets looking tidy than they are about caring for those who really need it.

Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @