A TEENAGER with Asperger syndrome has become the first person to take part in a new scheme highlighting the work of the city’s mayor.

Worcester Mayor Jabbar Riaz has launched his Consort For The Day scheme to provide inclusion for disadvantaged and disabled people in the city who may not otherwise have access to the mayor’s office and role.

Jessica Burden, aged 17, of West Malvern, who attends Asperger’s syndrome self-help and motivation group Aspie in Sansome Walk, joined Cllr Riaz as he attended at least five events in the city on Saturday.

Jessica said: "I am so excited. I am learning so much – how to talk to people and manage situations. People like me with Asperger’s struggle with that.

She added: "He prepares me for each event. He will tell me ‘this is going to happen – which is good.’"

Cllr Riaz said: "I am learning so much about Asperger’s. We have been to two events this morning, and she is dealing well with the situation.

"She is trying to keep me on track. She likes a strict regimented schedule and as mayor I have a lot of places I need to be so in that way we are quite compatible."

Her mother Dr Emma Philpott said: "It has been amazing for Jess.

"Jess learns by seeing how other people react in situations so watching the mayor is really helping her."

Speaking about the scheme, Cllr Riaz said: "It will give vital insight to the working life of the mayor and will also give the opportunity for the mayor to step into the consort’s shoes.

"It will also hopefully make employers or host organisations aware of the different kinds of conditions that people face so they can be mindful of them and make the necessary arrangements to accommodate."

He added: "Hopefully it will be an eye opener for all involved in these events on the chosen days, especially me."

He will be taking at least one person per month. Additional support needs will be put in place to help those with more challenging conditions.

Further details on how to apply will be published in the next week.