After she was evicted, the woman did move up the priority list for social housing but as she owns a van, she was not deemed an urgent case
58-year-old Suzanna Jones, diagnosed with terminal cancer, is now forced to live in a van with her pets after she was evicted for not being able to pay the rent. The woman was a truck driver travelling across Europe until an injury put a halt to her career, reported Mirror.
Jones was evicted in March 2021 and is now living in a tiny van, with her three hens, three quails, dog and cat. Her entire life is crammed into two 20ft storage containers. While Suzanna tries to figure out her living conditions, her health has been deteriorating rapidly. She has stage four cancer and professionals have not yet been able to identify the source of the cancer. All Suzanna knows is that she has tumours on her lungs, chest, neck, and head, reported Mirror.
She spoke about her life before her ankle injury and cancer diagnosis and said, “My life was wonderful – I was enjoying myself. It was a fantastic wage. I was living a great life and loving every minute of it. I’d been to parts of the country I’d never heard of, visited countries I could only dream of visiting, areas that no man would usually go to – I’ve had a wonderful trucking life. I managed to accumulate a massive group of friends – a trucking family sort of thing."
In January 2019, a heavy iron gate of the truck yard blew back against her ankle bone, completely smashing it. Suzanna not only lost her ability to drive her truck but also couldn't walk without a frame. Unable to work and feeling extremely lonely, she adopted animals for company – initially 11 hens, three quails, a cat, and a dog. But without work, she quickly burned through her savings and started living off benefits. Over time even that wasn't enough to pay the rent, reported Mirror.
The outlet reported that Suzanna ended up putting her name forward for social housing but because she was still living in a home the council could not help.
After she was evicted, she was moved up the priority list but as she does have a van as 'accommodation' she is not deemed an urgent case. She was given a place in an emergency shelter but she refused because they could not accept her animals. "I am a country girl so the thought of living in a town, housing estate, or street filled me with dread. I would rather share my van with a few animals than a housing estate full of strangers. They are rescue hens so I wasn't having them go back into cages. They all have names and I love them all dearly as though they were my children. The hens have come such a long way since their days of horror and are happy now," she explained.
She continued, "I got them thinking I’d never have to get rid of them. So I decided I was going to keep my animals. I wasn’t going to leave them to go and live in a flat that I would have been unhappy in anyway. I’d rather live in my van with my animals." Suzanna has split the van into sections – one for the hens, one for the quails, and one for herself, which she also shares with her dog and cat. What's left is just enough room for a bed and two small chests of drawers for her things. The rest of her belongings are currently in two huge containers, costing £240 ($338.71) a month, reported Mirror.
She spoke about her living conditions and said, "It was an adjustment. At first it was absolutely freezing – really, really cold. I’ve got a tarpaulin over me now so I’m covered from the rain now but before I couldn’t even open the door of the van if it rained. The bed I had was a bit too big so the door wasn’t shutting properly so every time it rained it rained in the bed. It was a bit miserable on those days. It was all a bit of a nightmare at first because it was literally thrown together. For the first month at least it was pretty difficult – it was freezing and I had no heat at all basically. I could set the generator up in the van to give a bit of heat but it's not brilliant and the waste of fuel just to have it ticking over all day just doesn’t work."
She continued, "On the day I moved out I had to makeshift the van into something that would fit the hens, the quails, the cat and the dog, and me – it was thrown together in an afternoon. Slowly since then, I've adapted it a bit to better things." Mirror reported that Suzanna has parked her van on a piece of land for which she pays the owner £100 ($141.13) a month. She cannot travel as she cannot afford to get an MOT which would make her vehicle roadworthy.
"With the van being illegal I can't go to my containers, which are 15 miles away from where I am parked, to get any supplies like clean clothes or other items I need. My van is too small to fit everything I need so I am struggling. At the moment it’s better for me to leave the van in one place because having to pack it up every time I need to go somewhere is a pain in the neck. It's also good that the animals have a permanent space," she said.
Suzanna set up a GoFundMe page, which has already raised over £12,000 ($16935.40). She was overwhelmed by the response she got. "The money from the GoFundMe is what’s keeping me going – without that I won’t be able to live. For people to be so generous – I was blown away. I didn’t even think I’d get £500 let alone what I’ve got. It was such a long shot. When people were telling me to make one I was laughing at them thinking: 'Who’s going to help out a stranger?' but it’s been incredible. People tell me that my story is harrowing, that it made them emotional, but for me living in the van isn't the worst thing in the world. It’s the most amazing feeling to think that complete strangers are feeling compassion towards me. One person donated £5,000 in one go – I just thought: ‘Oh my God’," she said, according to the Mirror.
Right before she moved into the van, she discovered that she had cancer. "The doctor said that even if they pick out all the lumps because it’s in so many different locations they’d never get it all. So any treatment now will be palliative treatment," she said. "At the moment I’m not sure if I want to go through with any of that because I watched my mother suffer with chemo and it just prolongs it. While I feel well I don’t see any point in making myself ill while I’m well. If I’m going to die anyway I don’t know if there's a point. I can’t really process it enough to think about it because I don’t feel any different. I feel fine, I feel very fine in myself – obviously until I can feel any symptoms in myself I’m going to be in denial," she added.
She is now concerned about what will happen to her beloved animals. "Until it’s sunk in I can’t process it. I’ve got my animals here with me – my only worry is should something happen to me what would happen to them? If something happens to me and I’m on my own here that worries me. But people do know I’m here so if they don’t see me pottering around for a few days at least people know," she explained before adding, "I like being where I am so I haven’t even thought about whether or if I will leave now. I like being here but I am scared later on about being on my own without human contact in case I need some help with something, which I’m dreading. I’m stuck in limbo – I can’t feel anything properly," reported Mirror.