Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Monday, 8 November 2010
Student film sheds light on poverty in Merthyr
Gemma Griffiths

A candid film by a student from Merthyr Tydfil is being used to mark the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social exclusion.

Gemma Griffiths' film Two Sisters gives a personal view of her family's experience of dealing with poverty and living on the breadline.

She hopes that the film will tackle stereotypes about poverty and show her ambitions and plans for her future.

The film has already been screened at an anti-poverty conference in Newport.

Twenty two year old Gemma is currently in the second year of a degree course studying film and video at Merthyr Tydfil college.

She made the film after her tutors Richard Davies and Nicola Ebdon were approached by the UK Department of Work and Pensions and the Bevan Foundation make a video to mark the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion.

Gurnos estate, Merthyr
Gemma's family live on the Gurnos estate in Merthyr

The European Commission says that children growing up in poverty and social exclusion are less likely than other children to do well in school, enjoy good health and stay out of trouble.

Gemma, who lives in a flat in Troedyrhiw, works part time at a fast-food outlet.

The film details her struggle in paying the rent and bills whilst in a low paying job.

"At the moment I am poor, I've got hardly any money at all," she says.

"I want to be able to afford the nice things that other people can have."

Gemma hopes in the future to be able to buy a car, become a homeowner and be able to put money away for savings.

"At the moment I have barely enough money to live on right now, never mind to put away enough money to save," she adds

Donna and her daughter Summer
Donna says it's a struggle to bring up a baby with little money

Gemma's family live on the Gurnos estate in Merthyr. Her sister Donna has a young baby and talks on the film about the cost of bringing up her daughter Summer and the difficulties she and her partner Lee have making ends meet.

He brings in between £200 to £230 a week "working all day, every day," as Donna explains.

"I get £150 every two weeks ... I struggle a bit to keep my money. It's not enough with a baby," she says.

Donna adds that they regularly run short of money and Lee has to work overtime to pay the bills.

Gemma's family faced financial challenges when ill health forced her father Gareth to give up his job at metal pressing factory TPS in Merthyr.

Gareth talks about being short of money one Christmas when Gemma and Donna were young.

He had to buy their Christmas presents at a car boot sale and then find boxes to try and make them look like they were brand new.

"You can tell he wants to support his kids but because he's on income support and disability, he can't afford it," says Gemma.

She hopes that the film will challenge the stereotypes that exist about living in poverty. She's wants a better life for herself and is ambitious and determined to make it happen.

Graffiti on wall in Gurnos
Gemma hopes the film will challenge stereotypes about living in poverty

"To me success is a stable career with enough money that you can support yourself and others. I want a successful career and a nice house, stability where I can afford a place of my own."

She adds that her 16-year-old self who left school with no qualifications would be proud that today she's in university, has still got goals and is still true to her roots.

"She'd probably be really proud of me and what I've accomplished to far."

As she says in the film: "I'll be okay, I'll always find a way through."




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