Vagrants paid in beer to clean Amsterdam’s streets

Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Credit: Moyan_Brenn

A hard core of vagrants had become a headache for Amsterdam social workers. Nothing could move them, and each day they caused more pollution and noisy abuses of passers-by. Enter the Rainbow Group with a harm-reduction approach that puts the homeless to work as street cleaners and rewards them with 10 euros, five cans of beer and some tobacco per session.

Spokeswoman Jasperine Schupp explained.

Metro: How well are they doing?

Schupp: It’s not like a scientific study but we can see severe alcoholics gain weight and they are drinking less. Police and neighbours had tried everything – rehab, activities – and nothing worked. Now they are not hanging in a group screaming at people, and we can see they take pride in their job of cleaning the area. The change has empowered them to make the best of themselves and they come every day on time, sober, and behaving more socially.

Is the local community supportive or suspicious?

We do encounter suspicion, not because they are working, but because we give them beer. But this is part of harm reduction – we accept they drink but guide them to drink less and in a way is less damaging to society. The police are supportive and people in the area are happy.

What is the recruitment process?

It’s a low threshold. If you are in a park making noise we will approach you. People say yes because they want to be busy, as well as the reward. Looking through the backgrounds of these people, nothing else has worked.

Could the scheme be expanded?

I hope so. In the Netherlands we have had harm reduction for years but it’s complicated because politicians and policymakers are scared to be involved. From a pragmatic point of view it’s a cheap idea and I hope politicians can treat it sensibly.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

National

New York Times calls for legalization of pot

The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea.

National

Two injured after cable snaps on Ohio amusement…

(Reuters) - A cable on a large swing ride at an Ohio amusement park snapped and struck two riders as the swing was in motion,…

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…