AN autism programme in the borough has been shortlisted for a national award.

The borough’s Autism Partnership Board has been nominated in the National Autism Professional Awards for its one-hour awareness sessions.

The sessions are co-produced and co-delivered by people with autism and include virtual tours of public buildings such as shopping centres, leisure centres and schools which are designed to reduce anxiety for those who take part.

More than 2,000 people have been involved in the sessions.

They include a number of fun and interactive exercises with attendees invited to pledge to do something positive to make the borough a more autism-friendly place.

The programme is also part of Wigan Council’s ambition to become the first autism-friendly borough in the country.

Cllr Keith Cunliffe, cabinet member for adult social care at the council, said: “The autism partnership board is driven by people with autism with lived experience and those who care for them.

“All of whom are really passionate to raise awareness about autism and how they can be best supported.”

Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability which affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people and how they experience the world around them.

Cllr Keith Cunliffe added: “Through our close work with many children and adults with autism, we are very aware of the amazing gifts and talents they have as well as some of the difficulties they encounter living in our borough.

“We believe these can be addressed through increased awareness and practical changes to services.

“The training sessions and virtual tours add to the innovative projects which will help to break down barriers for people with autism and help them be better connected into their community.”

The winner of the award will be announced later this year.

The Autism Partnership Board includes representatives from Wigan Council, Wigan CCG, 5 Boroughs Partnership, Bridgewater, GMP and Fire Service, charities and community groups.

Businesses also took part in last year’s Autism Hour by doing things such a turning down the music or dimming the lights for 60 minutes.