They are playing a constructive role in a community, where they were once dispised…
An alcoholic says: “There is a big difference with 1,5 years ago, people do respect us nowadays”. The chronic alcoholics are offered an incentive; five cans a free beer and 10 Euros a day, for five hours work. It’s less than the Netherlands minimum wage, but offers an opportunity that they couldn’t find elsewhere.
A park in Amsterdam was once the place where women were intimidated. Now more than 20 of the regulars have been convinced to abandon their parklife. This might sound like a bizarre concept, giving alcohol to alcoholics, but it’s a typically Dutch pragmatic approach to dealing with the problem. It’s based on a strategy of harm reduction and it’s one they say is working.
They, are the Rainbow Foundation, apartly state-funded group that runs this pioneering project. “It’s better for the neighborhood, the alcoholics do something back for society by cleaning the streets. Moreover, thanks to this initiative, the alcoholics in Amsterdam are having more structure, they drink less and I think it’s only a win-win-situation.”
But it in a city where prostitution is legal and cannabis decriminalized some conservatives feel free beers for alcoholics is taking this this liberal approach too far. It might not appeal to everyone’s taste, but it’s been Fred’s salvation. He became alcohol alcohol-dependent after the death of his wife. Fred: “I’m an alcoholicst, I’ve tried to stop drinking, but I can not stop…”
None of these alcoholics intend to get clean, but changing their habbits and channeling their energy does appear to be having a positive impact on the streets.