German city paying alcoholics in beer

A German city has launched a controversial programme that will see its alcoholic homeless sweep the streets in return for beer and cigarettes.


The homeless of Essen will be paid three beers, cigarettes and a hot meal for a day’s work (Photo: Wiki)

Social workers in the western industrial city of Essen will oversee the ‘Pick Up’ project, which will focus on the run down central square near the town’s railway station – a place commonly occupied by dozens of homeless people and addicts.

The project – copied from similar initiatives in Holland – is aimed at both tidying up the city and helping the homeless to get back into the kind of routine necessary for reintegration into normal society.

It is also hoped that it will discourage addicts from drinking dangerous amounts of harder alcohol, as for their work they will be paid with three bottles of beer, a hot meal and cigarettes for smokers, according to Die Welt newspaper.

They will also be given €1.20 an hour, or £0.93, from the city treasury for their efforts.

However, the project has drawn criticism from some aid groups who see giving alcoholics an incentive of beer as dehumanising and akin to blackmail.

However, dismissing these concerns, coordinator Oliver Balgar told The Bild newspaper: “The project participants are people who need to have a daily structure just to get back on their feet.”

Those taking part will be mostly long-term unemployed and heavily addicted people for whom therapies have failed, who have health problems and are “socially isolated and stigmatised”, the group leading the project said in a statement.

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