• Germany's news in English

City to give alcoholics beer to clean streets

Alex Evans · 13 May 2014, 16:20

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Anger as Berlin scraps 'Armenia genocide' concert in Turkey
The Dresden Symphony Orchestra. Photo: DPA

Germany's foreign ministry Tuesday scrapped a planned symphony performance on the Armenian "genocide" in its Istanbul consulate, sparking accusations that it was caving in to Turkish pressure.

Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd