In the town of Essen, Germany, there is a special project made to help alcoholics and drug addicts pick themselves up and rejoin to the society. The project is called ‘Pick-Up’, where the participants engage in cleaning the city’s streets in exchange of small hourly wage along with free beer! Although the amount of beer given away is small, so it won’t really cause a lot of damage.
“Not everyone gets beer, only the participants who aren’t able to do their work without it.” Oliver Balgar, the project oordinator
Balgar also claims that ‘Pick Up’ has nothing to do with exploiting people. He explained that the idea behind the project is to allow participants, who volunteered, to contribute to society in a way they otherwise wouldn’t.
The ambitious project has five participants so far, one of them is a recovering alcoholic named Jürgen.
“I’m not doing this just for the beer,” he insisted. “I can find beer on my own. I can get drunk anytime I want. This is something that allows me to help the people around me, and it gives me a chance to give back to my city.”
“I just want to do something good. That’s all. You wouldn’t think it, but this is so hard for me,” he added.
The participants work four hours a day. They start their first round around 10:30 am which lasts until lunchtime. After a quick meal they go out for their second route, followed by a discussion at the Addiction Help Center. That’s when they receive their wages ($1.58 per hour) and if eligible, up to three bottles of beer.
The project has received severe criticism in spite of its noble intentions.
“There’s no way this gig is going to reduce how much an alcoholic drinks,” said Essen resident, Simone. “People that hang out here are addicts, but it’s not only alcohol. Many of us are junkies. Heroin, cocaine, crystal, you name it you’ll find people here that use it.”