Caz Hopkins, Capitol centre, Queen Street, Cardiff

"The library's a lifeline, it keeps me connected"

I’d lived in Merthyr up in the Valleys all my life before I came to Cardiff. About three or four years ago I broke up with my partner, had a breakdown and became homeless. Before that I’d had three heart attacks so I was already out of work. I was out on the street and that’s when I came here. I tried to get enough money to sort out somewhere to stay but unfortunately I’m still sleeping rough now.

I’m supposed to be getting a place in January. I’m with this new project, Housing First, and they’re marvellous. They work with rough sleepers, helping with appointments and finding a property and stuff. It would be a flat of my own but with support. I can’t wait to get off the street. More than anything, rough sleeping is embarrassing. It’s just hard, like. It’s getting harder. Sometimes, when I’ve earned enough I go into a hostel for the night. It’s not often but it’s nice when it happens. I get a shower, that’s the best part. Well, that and the bed. They’re even.

I like to read when I get the chance

This is a good pitch, it’s quite busy and on rugby days it’s wicked. I’ve got a few regulars but it’s mostly passers-by. Selling The Big Issue has made a big difference to me. The distribution staff are brilliant, they really go out of their way for me. I’ve been selling it for about a year now and I’m getting a bit more confident. Confidence is something I’ve really struggled with in the past. It was frightening at first and it’s still frightening on days. You feel exposed but the good people outweigh the bad. The ones who shout at you. But everyone gets it hard some days.

I don’t really have time for hobbies but I like to read when I get the chance. I get books from the library in town when I can. The library’s a lifeline and it keeps me connected. I’ll read anything but mostly it’s fiction. I don’t have a favourite author, I just pick up what I like the look of and what suits my mood.

I was at college, studying childcare, but I left before I got my qualification. One day I’d like to go back and do photography. There’s a college in Cardiff where I could do that. I don’t have a camera at the moment and I’m not in a position to have one but it’s an ambition. Hopefully I could earn some cash from it too. I definitely want to keep selling The Big Issue even if I get into college, and maybe I’d get another job as well.

The people in Cardiff are lovely, they really are. But there’s loads of homeless around here now. It’s got really bad. It’s got worse in the time I’ve been here, I don’t know why. The new flat’s in Broadway, which is really close to town. It’s wicked. It would be great to get in in time for Christmas but I don’t think that’ll happen. I just want to get a place and have a job. It seems too good to be true to be honest, so I’m trying not to get my hopes up too soon.

I’m on my pitch every day 10am–7pm

Photo: David Wagstaffe

The Capitol Shopping Centre, Queen Street, Cardiff, UK