topics
tools
Expatica countries
Index Last Var.(%)
BEL 20 3083.51 0.32
DAX 9605.08 0.17
IBEX 30 10058.5 -1.04
CAC 40 4387.61 -0.20
FTSE 100 6806.86 -0.05
AEX 397.5 -0.20
DJIA 16272.65 0.46
Nasdaq 4318.933 0.63
FTSE MIB 20298.33 -0.11
TSX Composite 14214.35 0.18
ASX 5415.4 -0.10
Hang seng 22836.96 0.04
Straits Times 3110.78 0.45
ISEQ 20 836.3 0.23
EUR / USD 1.37976 0.67
EUR / GBP 0.82571 0.59
USD / GBP 0.598544 -0.10
Gold 1329.6 -0.13
Oil 108.9 -0.76
Silver 21.28 0.08
You are here: Home News Dutch News Amsterdam pays alcoholics in beer to clean streets
Enlarge font Decrease font Text size


19/11/2013Amsterdam pays alcoholics in beer to clean streets

Amsterdam pays alcoholics in beer to clean streets The Netherlands is using an innovative solution to clean streets by offering alcoholics beer, tobacco and pocket money to do the work instead of hanging around parks during the day.

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.

Frank is more sceptical.

"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.



Nicolas Delaunay / AFP / Expatica




7 reactions to this article

carrico posted: 2013-11-19 14:44:41

What a beautiful idea, what a lovely story. Dank u wel.

puffin13 posted: 2013-11-20 05:56:36

Great way to promote alcoholism. It's as if Amsterdam doesn't have enough problems with people and alcohol (a hard drug) already. Why not offer them some healthy food in exchange for work?!

Neil posted: 2013-11-20 11:41:55

I assume the warm meal they get for lunch is healthy. But this is holland so.... [Edited by moderator]

woods posted: 2013-11-22 15:40:52

Can't see how 5 beers a day is going to satisfy a dedicated alchie frankly,

Woods posted: 2013-11-22 15:42:40

And Puffin, the answer to that is because they wouldn't be interested - it's the booze that's the carrot.

carrico posted: 2013-11-24 16:55:55

Hah! "Dedicated alchie." Never heard it before. Wonder how you say that in Dutch? Hah! I'm gonna go swimming. I'm a dedicated swimmer.

carrico posted: 2013-12-12 15:52:40

Hah! Now I've become a dedicated street sweeper!

7 reactions to this article

carrico posted: 2013-11-19 14:44:41

What a beautiful idea, what a lovely story. Dank u wel.

puffin13 posted: 2013-11-20 05:56:36

Great way to promote alcoholism. It's as if Amsterdam doesn't have enough problems with people and alcohol (a hard drug) already. Why not offer them some healthy food in exchange for work?!

Neil posted: 2013-11-20 11:41:55

I assume the warm meal they get for lunch is healthy. But this is holland so.... [Edited by moderator]

woods posted: 2013-11-22 15:40:52

Can't see how 5 beers a day is going to satisfy a dedicated alchie frankly,

Woods posted: 2013-11-22 15:42:40

And Puffin, the answer to that is because they wouldn't be interested - it's the booze that's the carrot.

carrico posted: 2013-11-24 16:55:55

Hah! "Dedicated alchie." Never heard it before. Wonder how you say that in Dutch? Hah! I'm gonna go swimming. I'm a dedicated swimmer.

carrico posted: 2013-12-12 15:52:40

Hah! Now I've become a dedicated street sweeper!

 
Discussion Forums

Religion & Spirituality in the Netherlands

Buy Fake Passports ,Drivers license etc (kannymary222@gmail.com)

Music in the Netherlands

Buy Fake Passports ,Drivers license etc (kannymary222@gmail.com)

Shopping in the Netherlands

Buy Fake Passports ,Drivers license etc (kannymary222@gmail.com)

Leisure in the Netherlands

Buy Fake Passports ,Drivers license etc (kannymary222@gmail.com)

Sporting Events in the Netherlands

Buy Fake Passports ,Drivers license etc (kannymary222@gmail.com)

participate in the forums

 
 
 
 
 
Inside Expatica
Setting up home in the Netherlands

Setting up home in the Netherlands

A guide to telephone, internet and television along with utility services water, electricity and gas in the Netherlands.

Dutch immigration and residency regulations

Dutch immigration and residency regulations

Lost in the Dutch immigration system? Look no further than this guide compiled for our Survival Guide 2012.

A brief introduction to the Netherlands

A brief introduction to the Netherlands

Expatica offers a whistle-stop tour of life in the modern Netherlands.

Giving birth in the Netherlands

Giving birth in the Netherlands

The challenges and benefits of the maternity system in the Netherlands and how it differs to other countries.