TEACHING English to immigrant women in Burnley, has inspired an East Lancashire mum to write about the experiences and obstacles that foreigners face in the north.

The fictional story, is Michelle Flatley’s emotionally compelling record of women's struggles to build new lives when they cross the border and come to East Lancashire.

The 44-year-old who lives in Rossendale with her husband and three children penned the poignant novel, revealing what it’s really like to be a female immigrant in northern England and the book, My Beautiful England, is based around life in Burnley.

It was also inspired by the Shafilea Ahmed tragedy, the 17-year-old was murdered by her parents for bringing shame on the family by her desire to lead a westernised lifestyle.

“My time in Burnley inspired me to write the book, although he characters are all fictional. Some of the challenges that women face are unbelievable. They can find life very, very different to what they expected,” said Michelle who has been teaching English for five years.

Michelle saw many obstacles in the lives of these women. During one of her classes a 19-year-old Pakistani girl who had been in England for just three weeks broke down in tears during the class. Some of her family members had been killed in northern Pakistan and she was helpless. She was unable to communicate and found herself trapped in a loveless marriage and felt alone.

According to Michelle this is the story of many.

“So many times the voices echoed in the classroom; ‘If you are a woman in our culture, you do not complain. You accept everything.’ they often had nowhere to turn,” said Michelle.

The book tells the story of three women, Su from Thailand, Sammy from Pakistan and Lenka from Poland. The three juggle their language classes, family life and the ignorance that East Lancashire folk have towards immigrants.

“Some people have read the book and I have had some mixed reactions. Before it was published I had some friends read it and they were very positive, immigration is quite complex but the women were from many different places and all managed to communicate and make friends.

"I did teach male students too. The male students, they had Master’s degrees and they couldn’t find any jobs. They were working in factories for £2 an hour. It was a real eye-opener.”

My Beautiful England shows the reality that immigrants face when they move to East Lancashire. Based on the pictures that they had seen of London and Big Ben in books, the immigrants told Michelle that arriving in Burnley is far from ideal.

“One woman told me ‘I was so excited to come here. But then I realised England was not this dream place everyone talks about. No jobs. Houses are boarded up. The town is far away from everything. I don’t go out except to English classes. In the town centre people abuse me if I wear a veil.’ These women found the segregated communities a shock.”

Michelle, who now teaches English language to students at Bury college, insisted that the book is about immigration and not about race.

“My time teaching ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) was one of the most enjoyable times and one of the best jobs that I have had. These people are some of the most generous, humble, loving people and they really want to try to be involved with the wider community, but it’s often not that easy. The book would never have been published if it wasn’t for the experiences and honesty that these women have shared with me.”