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Civil Service

Make a pledge to improve your wellbeing

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: A great place to work, Civil Service Leaders, Health & Wellbeing
Philip Rycroft
Philip Rycroft, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union

This week, 2 to 6 July, is Civil Service Active Wellbeing Week, which I am delighted to introduce to you in my new capacity as Chair of CSSC Sports and Leisure.

CSSC has been working with civil servants for nearly 100 years to enhance their wellbeing through sporting and many other leisure activities. It is a great privilege to chair this organisation, which is more vibrant and more relevant than ever.

Supported by hundreds of brilliant volunteers, CSSC has a huge amount to offer its members in ways that help them lead more active and healthy lives, from taking part in its sporting activities, to getting out and about, for example through using the complimentary English Heritage membership. I would encourage everyone to have a look at what membership offers. It’s a great deal.

We all know the benefits of exercise in terms of both physical and mental wellbeing. For many of us, exercise is something that helps us to deal with busy and demanding jobs. That’s why promoting a healthy lifestyle is a key Civil Service Health and Wellbeing priority. So this year, to widen the reach of what used to be Physical Activity Week, the Civil Service is partnering with CSSC to launch the first Active Wellbeing Week.

Feet in trainers

I would encourage as many of you as possible to get involved in activities that are planned in your department this week. You can also set goals to improve your overall wellbeing by visiting the Active Wellbeing Week 2018 website and making a pledge. That pledge could be anything from increasing your number of daily steps, to spending more time gardening, walking the dog every day, or trying something completely new, like 10 minutes of ‘chairobics’ - exercises you can do while seated. (You can see my personal pledge among others on the Active Wellbeing website, here.)

CSSC are hosting three national events in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh this week, as well as working with departmental sports associations and local CSSC area associations to organise local events. There are lots of opportunities to get involved and the details are available on the Active Wellbeing Week 2018 website.

Graphic with legend 'A great place to work'Give it a go! And have a look to see what great benefits CSSC has for you.

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  1. Comment by Gavin Thomas posted on

    Thank you Philip for promoting this important initiative. Although, I am currently posted overseas, I am aware that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and their Staff Association the Wellbeing Network did seek to promote this initiative and even our PUS Sir Simon McDonald took time out for walk through St James Park.

    Although, I was in Ankara, I still aside time to go for a walk both in the morning before breakfast and in the evening after work. I found that it was a great way to stimulate the little grey cells!

    I hope that others were inspired to take up the challenge.

  2. Comment by Hilary Norbury posted on

    Hi Sam,

    The Home Office Health and Wellbeing strategy includes promotion of national events like Civil Service Active Wellbeing Week. We have done this through our internal web news story last week, which includes a blog in which people can post ideas about their pledges, and information about local Home Office events and activities. Paul Morrison, our Senior Wellbeing Champion, has written to all Home Office SCS, asking them to make a pledge and to encourage their staff members to do the same. Pledges can include, for example, arranging an office lunchtime walking group in Croydon. The Health and Wellbeing strategy encourages the setting up of geographical Wellbeing Networks groups to implement strategic actions and to arrange local health and wellbeing initiatives. There are already some Wellbeing Network groups at various locations across the UK, and they are taking the initiative to organise local activities. You could enquire if one has been set up in Croydon and, if not, suggest this to your senior managers. Thanks for your interest. I hope the response inspires you to encourage others in Croydon to get involved.

    Hilary Norbury Home Office Health and Wellbeing Strategy Lead

    • Replies to Hilary Norbury>

      Comment by Jeff McGough posted on

      Hi Hilary,
      I work in Comms and Engagement within the Home Office, and also lead on our local health and wellbeing initiatives.
      We'd have loved to have actively participated in/promoted Active Wellbeing Week, but we were only made aware of its existence when an article appeared on the intranet on the 28th July!
      Hopefully next year the HO will be able to promote this a lot earlier to enable local teams to do it justice.

  3. Comment by Paul Luckett posted on

    I note the article above acknowledges the benefits of exercise in terms of both physical and mental wellbeing. I’m therefore perplexed why we've been advised that there are no plans to incorporate a gymnasium within HMRC's brand new regional centre being built in Stratford, East London??

    • Replies to Paul Luckett>

      Comment by HR Operations, HMRC posted on

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your comment. HMRC is committed to supporting staff fitness and is working on the introduction of a Civil-Service-wide gym membership, which will offer discounted memberships to a number of gyms in the UK. This new benefit would be made available to staff through the 'mylifestyle' portal ( While - in line with wider government hub policy - HMRC isn’t providing gyms as standard, we have said that, if there is available space once the design work is complete, we will consult on how it might be used. This could include using it as fitness space - though this is unlikely to be the case in most regional centres.

      HR Operations, HMRC

      • Replies to HR Operations, HMRC>

        Comment by Charlotte Smith posted on

        I am very pleased to read that a civil service wide gym membership scheme is being worked on. I am already a member of my local gym but its expensive forking out a wad of cash every month in pursuit of fitness glory!!

        Is it possible some sort of funding can be made available for staff to apply for an advance of wages for gym related activities i.e. purchase of gym equipment etc.? For example I need next month to buy myself some new gym clothes and support straps for weightlifting. A bit like the travel to work scheme for the purchase of a bike. With the constant burdens of paying higher bills and cost of living increasing, it would be a welcome bit of relief and of course aid staff wellbeing in the workplace.

  4. Comment by Sam Mortimer posted on

    Are there any events planned in Croydon for Civil Service Active Wellbeing Week?

  5. Comment by Claire Reader posted on

    In CMG I am promoting Active Wellbeing week and we have tried to play the chairobics video (via Mozilla) but unfortunately it will not play the sound and vision in unison. Is there any other format/method to play the video? Thanks

    • Replies to Claire Reader>

      Comment by Health and Wellbeing Team, Civil Service HR posted on

      Hi Claire,

      It's great to hear that you promoted Active Wellbeing Week in your office, and it is unfortunate that you were not able to play the video. With CSSC, we did look at alternative hosts to YouTube but, unfortunately, these did not work for some departments either. We are constantly striving to make the resources as inclusive as possible - and that includes reaching out to people with different IT systems - so, although it may be too late for this year, we will continue to seek a way around this for future events.

      Health and Wellbeing Team, CSHR