The United Nations has awarded the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) a Public Service Award.

Those working on the programme - which aims to reduce poverty and promote social inclusion and equality - have been commended for their work during the pandemic.

The 'Institutional resilience and innovative responses to the Covid-19 pandemic' award is recognition from the UN on Public Service Day.

Funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development and the European Social Fund, the SICAP seeks to promote gender equality and anti-discrimination practices.

It also involves the participation of disadvantaged and marginalised communities locally through community development.

Work is done collaboratively to improve how mainstream policies and programmes are delivered more positively for those who are socially excluded.

Joe O'Brien praised community initiatives during the pandemic

The award is a first for the Department of Rural and Community Development.

Minister of State with Responsibility for Community Development and Charities Joe O'Brien congratulated those who worked on the programme.

"Some of the innovative responses during the pandemic included food parcels, shop and drop and meals-on-wheels services, friendly calls and phone-based crisis counselling services and support to families adapting to digital services," he said.

Those who benefit from the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme include disadvantaged children and families, disadvantaged women and young people, lone parents, people with disabilities, Roma, unemployed people and members of the Traveller community.