The Rainbow Group is a carefully monitored private but primarily government-funded company, which helps people struggling to cope due to homelessness, drug abuse or alcoholism. 20 alcoholics have joined this initiative. They arrive at 09:00 and work until 15:00, scouring the streets for rubbish. Inside a communal space, the workers take extended breaks for beer, cigarettes and a hot lunch, all provided free of charge. Now, instead of being shunned by society, the alcoholics' needs appear to have been incorporated into the Dutch healthcare system.
The woman who runs who runs the Rainbow Group's litter project says the project is cost-effective. They have tried many ways of getting people off alcohol, and this one addresses the problem. The environment is better off, the alcoholics have more quality of life, and they give something back to the community, rather than citizens paying to keep them in jail.
Most Dutch people are in favor of the scheme.
Since the street-cleaning project started 12 months ago, local police have received fewer reports of stabbings and muggings in the park. Other cities in the Netherlands are considering introducing similar schemes.
From my experience of living with a man who once bought two packets of cigarettes a day, smokers could come under this heading. For two years, my husband has used the free services of the UK's National Health Scheme to cut down on smoking. He's over 75 years and he started smoking in his teens. The health advisors accept that he will probably never be free of his cravings. But at least he can cut down on the harmful cigarette smoke associated with the nicotine. Another case of damage control.
I'm in favor of the Dutch Government's scheme to give alcoholics a sense of mattering in their society. I hold as an example the Salvation Army and their compassion to homeless people no matter what their circumstances. The way I see it, we're all working toward perfection. In life, our freedom of choice presents various temptations. Some succumb and others go on to face another challenge. We should help our fellow man along the path.
What do you think of Amsterdam's initiative?