Christmas in a tent for expectant parents

Jan and Jessica in the tent they have lived in near Chichester for five months

Jan and Jessica in the tent they have lived in near Chichester for five months

  • Jan and Jessica Kuppers living in tent near Chichester
  • Jan has a brain tumour and Jessica is pregnant
  • Have been homeless since being scammed of £11,000 since arriving in UK in March
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A German man and his pregnant wife are preparing to spend Christmas in a tent after being homeless for nearly nine months.

Jan and Jessica Kuppers, from Frankfurt, say they have slept rough on the streets of London and then in the toilet of caravan park in Chichester since coming to England, after being scammed out of their £11,000 savings.

Mark read about the couple's story on the Observer website on Christmas Eve and said he had to help

Mark read about the couple's story on the Observer website on Christmas Eve and said he had to help

Now they are living in a £9 tent from Morrisons in woods next to the A27 just outside Chichester.

Jan, 29, says he has an inoperable brain tumour and fears he won’t live long enough to see the birth of his child.

“Life is very hard for us, we have been homeless for nine months nearly since arriving in England,” he said.

“My wife is three-and-a-half months pregnant and I have a stage five brain tumour which is in the last stage and getting worse.

Happier times. The pair say they had a house and jobs before they had to leave Germany

Happier times. The pair say they had a house and jobs before they had to leave Germany

“I am taking strong medication of steroids, my leg is getting bad and I have headaches.

“A GP here has told me if I am lucky I will see the birth of my child but if I have too much stress it is going to be faster.”

Jan says the couple were forced to flee Germany because of a ‘troubled family situation’ which saw him threatened with violence.

He claims they paid out £11,000 to cover 12 months’ rent on a flat in Chingford, east London, and flew over to England with their two dogs in March with a plan to continue his online business.

However when they arrived there was no sign of the woman they had arranged to meet, so they found a local hotel.

There they phoned Airbnb, the rental company they thought they had arranged accommodation through, and were told they had been duped by a common scam, meaning they had lost everything.

“After a while we had no money, in the end we were kicked out of the B&B and lived on the streets in London,” Jan said.

“We heard it was better down here (the south of England), we have no food for three or four days so we decide to go.

“In the first few weeks we were sleeping in a camping area in the toilet, then in the shower the two of us plus our two dogs.

“My wife speak to a lady who work in the shop and she give us £9 so we can buy a tent from Morrisons. Now we live next to the A27 in the woods.”

Jan says he worked at McDonald’s in Chichester for two weeks, and claims they have National Insurance numbers and a right to work in the country.

Jan says they have now been told they must move their tent, and are scheduled to meet with the UK Border Agency in January.

He said: “At the moment the plan is to go to eat in the Chichester Hub (at homeless charity Stonepillow) for Christmas and after that we go back to sit in our tent.

“It is very hard for us. In Germany we had a house, jobs and all the good things. But we have learnt hard the life from the other side.

He added: “We have asked for help but all it has brought is more trouble for us. We are being told we can’t stay in our tent where we are.

“I think we will be told to go back to Germany, I don’t think that’s OK for people in a bad situation to be told this.”

Under EU laws, all EU nationals have the right to an initial three months of residence in the UK.

They can continue to reside in the UK as long as they are exercising their Treaty rights, which refer to employment (including job-seeking); self-employment; study; and economic self-sufficiency.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Because this is an on-going case we are unable to comment at this time.”

A spokeswoman for Chichester District Council added: “We cannot comment on individual cases however we can confirm that Chichester District Council has not asked the couple to move.”