COUNCIL officers are sometimes criticised for not listening or engaging with their communities.

We feel that when they get it right, they should be applauded.

The council recently reviewed the York Financial Assistance Scheme that was launched in April 2013.

During the review process, we asked to speak to the relevant officers to provide feedback on the issues that we had observed.

John Madden and Di Bull were keen to engage and hear how the scheme had operated to date from an external perspective.

They took on board that the scheme, while clearly needing to focus on those most in need, should not have arbitrary eligibility criteria.

They also listened to best practice elsewhere when residents in crisis expressed a preference to be awarded goods in kind, including food, rather than cash and recognised that sensible procurement (for instance of white goods) may allow better value for the taxpayer.

Most importantly, they recognised that when unable to make an award, using relationships built with trusted referral partners is the best way of addressing some of the underlying issues that residents experience rather than making a direct food bank referral.

Perhaps the only thing missing in their report was that the scheme, while used more this financial year, is still relatively unknown. The council could do more to raise awareness.

Nevertheless, credit where it is due.

Laura Hagues, York Foodbank, The Gateway Centre, Acomb, York.

Richard Bridge, Holgate Road, York.