German City Pays Alcoholics with Beer

A tax-payer funded project in the German city of Essen to get unemployed alcoholics back to work cleaning litter from streets has sparked controversy by offering beer as pay for those who take part.

The project, planned by charity Addict Support Essen, is to offer beer along with food and medical treatment to alcoholics and drug addicts in exchange for working three to six hours a day in a "pick-up initiative," according to The Local, a news website.

They will also be given €1.25 an 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."

The charity released a statement saying that the "pick-up" will be totally voluntary and targeted at Essen's long-term alcoholics. They said the beer was just a small part of the project, "a means to an end."

"For the participants it is about a meaningful daily structure, feeling useful and learning a new way to behave."

A charity spokeswoman, Bärbel Marrziniak, was reported to have told broadcaster ZDF: "Some of them simply need the bottle of beer to become fit for work."

The charity said that if the promise of free beer motivates addicts to work, regain a daily routine and accept medical care, it is worthwhile.

A study by a Munich health research institute released last January showed 1.8m people in Germany are alcoholics, up by 36 per cent from 1.3m in 2006. Under 25s are particularly affected.


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