• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

City to give alcoholics beer to clean streets

Alex Evans · 13 May 2014, 16:20

Published: 13 May 2014 16:20 GMT+02:00

The "Pick-up" initiative, planned by charity Addict Support Essen to start in mid-June, offers addicts beer - along with food and medical treatment - in exchange for working three to six hours a day collecting litter off streets.

They will also get "pocket money" of €1.25 per hour, similar to the established "one-euro-jobs" which employ unemployed and homeless people in Germany for public projects at an hourly rate of €1.

No beer, no show

"Pick-up" will be totally voluntary and targeted at Essen's long-term alcoholics, many of whom also have drug problems and have spent time in prison, the charity said in a statement.

"The aim of the programme is not to supply people with beer," it explained. "For the participants it is about a meaningful daily structure, feeling useful and learning a new way to behave."

The statement claimed offering people beer was a small part of the project, merely a means to an end.

Addict Support spokesman Bärbel Marrziniak told broadcaster ZDF: "Some of them simply need the bottle of beer to become fit for work.

"If we didn't give it to them, they would not turn up in the first place."

And organizers defended plans to use free booze to entice alcoholics into work by saying that for many long-term drinkers abstinence is an unrealistic goal.

If the promise of free beer motivates addicts to work, regain a daily routine and accept medical care, they said, it is worthwhile.

Addict Support Essen also argued it was right and proper the project be paid for out of public funds.

"It is the same with funding for most social programmes for disadvantaged and sick people in Germany," it said in the statement. "It ends up saving money in other areas."

Inspired by Amsterdam

But some condemned the plans as irresponsible and exploitative.

"It would be nice if we could give the homeless a bit of their dignity back, when they're already at rock bottom," Sabine Zschaler, chairman of charity Homeless Support Ruhr and Lower Rhine, told ZDF.

"But that's not going to happen if we pay them with beer."

Zschaler said she suspected many participants would turn up, do the minimum required to get their bottle of beer, and then leave.

But Addict Support Essen is confident the tactic will produce results, pointing to a similar scheme in Amsterdam which they said was highly successful.

"Pick up" claims it will make a difference by educating participants on a controlled approach to drinking, alongside giving medical support including immunizations, medicines, vitamin supplements and counseling.

The scheme's one-year trial is slated to kick off in Essen in mid-June, with a medical observer assigned to evaluate its effects among participants.

"What will come about at the end of that, we don't yet know ourselves," Marrziniak said.

SEE ALSO: German beer culture in 11 gulps

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Alex Evans (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Eleventh victim claimed by Bavaria train crash
Recovery crews watch as a crane lifts one of the train carriages from the site of the wreck outside Bad Aibling, Upper Bavaria. Photo: DPA

Eleventh victim claimed by Bavaria train crash
6 hours ago

A further victim has succumbed to their wounds after Tuesday's horrific train crash in southern Germany.

Heartthrob Clooney hopes to charm Merkel over refugees
Photo: DPA

Heartthrob Clooney hopes to charm Merkel over refugees
6 hours ago

Will Clooney's star power be enough to move the Chancellor?

Berlin extends border checks as Nato launches sea patrol
German Navy supply ship "Bonn" is currently the flagship of Nato Standing Maritime Group 2. Photo: DPA

Berlin extends border checks as Nato launches sea patrol
7 hours ago

Opponents of the country's refugee policy will take the moves as a sign Chancellor Angela Merkel isn't making progress.

Munich woman 'murdered boyfriend with electric saw'
Police guard the property in Haar. Photo: DPA

Munich woman 'murdered boyfriend with electric saw'
8 hours ago

A Munich woman is believed to have dragged two men into the grisly murder of an ex-boyfriend.

Man plunges car into river Elbe on orders from satnav
The ferry station at Bleckede. Photo: DPA

Man plunges car into river Elbe on orders from satnav
9 hours ago

Apparently affirming the stereotype that Germans always obey those in authority, a man drove into the river Elbe on Thursday after blindly following his Sat Nav.

‘Nazi Grandma’ escorted from SS trial after being attacked
Ursula Haverbeck. Photo: DPA

‘Nazi Grandma’ escorted from SS trial after being attacked
11 hours ago

An 87-year-old grandmother convicted for Holocaust denial tried to attend the trial of a former SS guard in Auschwitz on Thursday, but was taken away by police after she came under attack.

'Don't leave us alone with France', Lufthansa begs Brits
Lufthansa boss Carsten Spohr would rather not be stripped naked by an angry mob of trade unionists - as happened to his counterparts at Air France. Photo: DPA

'Don't leave us alone with France', Lufthansa begs Brits
12 hours ago

German businesses would "feel alone" in a post-Brexit Europe without a political counterweight against "socialist" countries like France, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr told an audience in London on Wednesday.

Berlin police seize man who refuses to give up Döner
Photo: DPA

Berlin police seize man who refuses to give up Döner
12 hours ago

Police in Berlin had to drag a man from a bus on Wednesday evening after he refused to stop eating a Döner which he’d brought on board.

Banks exchange 1000s of credit cards after hack attack
Photo: DPA

Banks exchange 1000s of credit cards after hack attack
13 hours ago

Several large German banks have had to exchange thousands of customers’ credit cards after details were stolen in a hacker attack at the end of last year.

Hollywood comes to town as Berlinale rolls out red carpet
Preparations outside the Berlin Palast. Photo: DPA

Hollywood comes to town as Berlinale rolls out red carpet
15 hours ago

Hollywood will be out in force to kick off the Berlin film festival Thursday, with Meryl Streep joining George Clooney and the Coen brothers for the event which could start under rain clouds.

Sponsored Article
US taxes and FATCA: 'The time for hiding is over'
National
Border controls, sea patrol: Merkel's plan to cut refugee arrivals
Sponsored Article
Back to Boho chic: Win your new season wardrobe
Berlin
Berliner fights police and bus driver for right to keep eating Döner kebab
National
What we know so far about the Bavaria train crash
Culture
10 essential words you'll need when visiting Cologne carnival
Technology
Army presents new camo pattern that can fool night vision goggles
Health
Disabled people explain what life is like for them in Germany
International
How to vote in the US election when you live abroad
Business & Money
The small town planning to get rid of small change
National
Top five inventions of Germany's 'patent king'
National
Pensioner crushed in hospital machine
Politics
Could Bernie Sanders get elected in Germany?
Society
Most German conservatives back gay marriage: poll
Politics
'Russia aims to weaken the EU. The refugee crisis is an opportunity.'
Gallery
Eight wonders of the world's biggest toy fair in Nuremberg
National
Islamists and Neo-Nazis both ready for violence, say spies
Frankfurt
Drunk-driving cop tries to escape through toilet window
Berlin
How Berlin Bowie fans paid tribute with art on ice
Police fight rumours they've been hiding truth on refugees
Berlin
Brave passengers grab man accused of shoving woman under train
National
Software bug means German jets can't fly at night
Rhineland
First suspects arrested after Cologne sexual assaults
Politics
Berlin to North Africa: take deportees or give up aid cash
6,966
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd