NO matter where else in the world you come from all you want to do is build a better future for yourself and your family.

But being a migrant in one of East Lancashire’s most deprived towns can be a callous experience.

Especially with the current rise of political party UKIP, who’s leader Nigel Farage only recently said Romanians coming to the UK had been ‘forced into a life of crime by real poverty’ and their potential neighbours would be worried if a group of them moved in next door.

But according to Rossendale author Michelle Flatley, who has penned her latest novel Precious Metal, the comments and stereotypes expected amongst immigrant communities in East Lancashire is wrong.

For the mother-of-three who has been teaching English to asylum seekers and refugees for several years, her new fictional ebook highlights the challenges that immigrants face living in Blackburn, whilst also telling a modern-day Romeo and Juliet tale.

“Perceptions of migrants have to some extent been shaped by the media and Precious Metal attempts to challenge those stereotypes. It’s very, very topical at the moment and I have had a lot of messages from people who have read the book,” said Michelle.

“With the recent coverage of UKIP in the press and focus on Romanians in particular, there is certainly a growing sense of fear and unrest and a feeling amongst immigrants and migrants that they are not welcome in the UK. This sentiment is expressed in the book.”

Precious Metal tells the tale of Nikolae the young Romanian wants to work but is forced to turn to metal thefts to survive while other Romanians in his house have jobs and send money home to their families.

He meets the love of his life Zareen, a politics student who is being forced to marry her cousin.

The 17 chapters of fiction are based in Magnolia Street, Blackburn, it tells of the friction between those in the well-established Asian community and how they react to Romanians moving into the area, who more often than not arrive with nothing other than a rucksack.

“Some migrants arrive in the UK with much hope and few belongings. In the book the Romanians for example live in a terraced house and sleep on mattresses on the floor, but dream of a better life. Precious Metal makes the point that there are criminals in all communities. It's a novel about individuals, rather than categories and labels.“ said Michelle.

Last year the 44-year-old wrote her first book, My Beautiful England another story highlighting the experiences and obstacles that immigrant women face — her experiences that came from teaching women from Thailand who marry for a better life or those in arranged marriages, living in Burnley.

“I have worked with immigrants from all over and it’s quite different to the stuff that you read in newspapers, they all just want a better life, they want to work and learn English. This novello is ultimately a work of fiction inspired by reality. A student with little English recently asked me if UKIP was now governing the UK. The fear that extensive media coverage of the European Election and UKIP has created is very real. Some immigrants will recognise Nigel Farage, but couldn't tell you the name of the Prime Minister,” said Michelle.

Michelle said: “I have seen the human side of immigration. Those individual human stories are rarely heard. Few of us can imagine what it's like to arrive in a new country where English is your second language Precious Metal is concerned with poverty, divided communities and the realities of living in a deprived northern town. If my books are 'uncomfortable' to read it is because they deal with genuine issues and there are no happy endings. Real life for many people in the UK is difficult and these tensions are felt across many communities. I think the novel shows that relationships between different communities are complex.”

Although Blackburn has a diverse population, the story only involves Asians and Romanians.

Michelle said: ”I wanted to explore relationships between different communities. The love story between an Asian girl and a Romanian boy was a perfect opportunity to look at how different communities relate to each other.

“The Asian family in the novel is actually British and is proud to be British. The younger generation in the novel reject tradition and don't conform to their parents wishes. The story is about freedom, individual choice and love across cultures.

“It's about two people who fall in love and don't want to be defined by their ethnicity or culture alone.”

l Precious Metal is published by Salt Publishing and available as an ebook on Amazon.