Wake Up Call

Amsterdam Gives Beer, Tobacco, and Money to Alcoholics to Pick Up Trash

Only in a place like Amsterdam would alcoholics be able to get a job that pays both money and (let's be honest, what they really want) beer.

The project, called the Rainbow Foundation project, is financed by the Dutch state and donations, according to Times Live. Employees get paid 10 euros, a half-packet of rolling tobacco, and five cans of beer every day.

See also: Cheers! Scientists Say Beer Consumption Is Good for Your Health

"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 project.

So the idea was that picking up trash would at least keep them busy during the day at -- they work from 9 a.m. to about 3:30 p.m. The alcoholics, who are all in the program voluntarily, are split into groups of about 10, with each group working three days a week.

A day of work for the group starts with two beers and coffee before they go out and starting cleaning the city's streets. Then they return at lunch for two more beers and a hot lunch. The shift wraps up around 3:30 with one final beer.

"I think I can speak for the group and say that if they didn't give us beers, then we wouldn't come," says one participant, Frank, who "has been jailed for violence, has never worked for anyone, and has no fixed abode."

And as nice as it sounds to get beer -- and quite frankly, a lot of it -- at work, Frank points out, "We need alcohol to function; that's the disadvantage of chronic alcoholism." And while participants say the program has given their lives structure for the first time in years, it's not clear whether the program is actually making them drink less.

"When we leave here, we go to the supermarket and transform the 10 euros we earned into beer," Frank told the Agence France-Presse.

Also on the downside, beer and 10 euros is never going to pay the rent. So we guess we'll have to stick with getting paid in money.

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria