Michael Rossi, 55, outside the Old Library, Cardiff

"Charlotte Church came to sing with our band. Music has been my saviour"

I grew up in London but I came to Cardiff a few years ago. My partner had moved to Wales, so I moved here too, to keep the relationship going. But sadly it wasn’t to be. When the relationship ended it hit me hard and I began drinking quite heavily.

Things are looking up. About six weeks before Christmas I got off the streets and into sheltered accommodation

I got pretty low at one point – I was sleeping on the streets for about eight months last year. But I was determined to work my way out of it. I had sold The Big Issue on and off for a while but then I started taking it very seriously and committing to the hard work of being out there day after day. Selling in the long run-up to Christmas was a great boost, and I’m really keen to keep working hard in 2017.

Photo: Jake Morley

Another thing I began doing last year is playing music. I joined a music project at the Huggard Centre in Cardiff. There are a couple of teachers there who lead jam sessions – one guy on guitar, another on synth, another plays drums. I play the bass. I learned about seven years ago, after getting inspired by the movie School of Rock, but I’d never played with other people, so learning to play in sync with others has been really amazing. We’ve come up with our own riffs and developed mostly instrumental rock songs. It sort of fits with my favourite kind of stuff – 1970s heavy rock and prog rock.

We had Charlotte Church come down to sing with our band. She was there to find out more about homelessness for a BBC programme called No Fixed Abode. She was nice – very smart. Since it was shown on TV I’ve had a couple of people recognise me. We might have a CD of our music done in the next couple of months.

Photo: Jake Morley

Things are looking up. About six weeks before Christmas I got a place to stay in sheltered accommodation. So I’ve moved from sleeping rough to staying in a hostel – which wasn’t very nice – into a shared house for four people run by The Wallich charity. It’s such a relief to have somewhere safe to lay my head, somewhere to have a cup of tea and read a book at night.

Slowly but surely I’m getting there. The Big Issue has given me a sense of purpose back, and music has been my saviour. That’s the special thing about music – it gets you through some pretty dark times.

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My favourite band… I love Black Sabbath, Gong, Ozric Tentacles – all those 1970s bands – but Hawkwind are my favourite, and Quark, Strangeness and Charm is probably the album I like best because it was the first I ever bought.

By the book… I like crime thrillers and fantasy books, and Moorcock is probably my favourite author – he wrote the great Elric of Melniboné books.

On my pitch… I’m at the Old Library in Cardiff from 9.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday

Old Library, Singleton Road, Cardiff, United Kingdom