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Civil Service

This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

Civil Service Sports Council Active Wellbeing

Civil Service Sports Council Active Wellbeing represents the organisation’s biggest push to get the Civil Service moving. Over 10,000 colleagues took part in 2023’s challenge, and 2024 is set to be its biggest and most inclusive yet. CSSC’s CEO Matt Bazeley, OBE, reflects on what sport means to him, and how he manages to balance the demands of a challenging job with staying active. 

How did it all start? 

I’m fortunate that I can remember being both interested and involved in sport for as long as I can remember being on this planet. I grew up in a very rural little village in South Oxfordshire, where we essentially lived outside, and this certainly helped. 

I fell into what were then considered “boys” sports of football, rugby and cricket, following those through senior school, university and into my time in the army. I was lucky enough to enjoy playing all of those sports until well into my 40s. I still play bad cricket and bad golf in my 50s!

I have a passion for sport as a spectator, as a participant, as a volunteer, and as an organiser. I'll turn up to watch a game of tiddlywinks if there's something competitive going on.

Looking after myself

To be effective in my role I know in myself that I must do some sport or exercise to maintain my sense of personal wellbeing and if I go more than three 4-5 days without having done any exercise, I feel mentally and physically sluggish. There's a local gym in my village that I go to and in the winter and in the summer I'll try and run. If it’s a beautiful summer's morning in North Oxfordshire, that's not the worst way to start the day.

It allows me to refocus my brain. I am busy and I find myself juggling a lot of things. It's remarkable how you can dislocate from work just by going to the gym, taking the dogs for a walk, and in that time your brain works through things. You can put things in an order and it's constructive time. It might be away from work, but it has genuine work benefits.

I think it’s a bit like putting your car into the garage to get serviced. Fundamentally, nothing's changed. The car is still the car, but you've had that opportunity to freshen things up a little bit. The oil and filters are a bit better and you've just got things running a little smoother in your head. It is amazing how often you reconcile a way ahead on a particularly crunchy problem by stepping away from actually confronting it.

The benefits of taking part

Active Wellbeing exists to give the opportunity for as many civil servant employees to enjoy the benefits of some increase in their physical activity over the course of the challenge. We thoroughly celebrated the fact that last year we got a record number of civil servants participating, in excess of 10,000. If we were to get up towards 15,000, that would be a remarkable achievement. That said, any growth in the number of civil servants who are able to access and enjoy the benefits of the campaign would be a huge success for our perspective. 

We’re not trying to turn anyone into an athlete overnight, quite the opposite. It doesn't matter what you do, just do something, and if that means you step away from your desk at lunchtime for half an hour, take the stairs instead of the lift, walk or roll one more tube, metro or bus stop further than usual that’s great – it all counts. 

I firmly believe that physical activity gives you that opportunity to step away from work, get away from your responsibilities, focus on yourself, your own health and wellbeing. The time you are able to give to that activity will pay enormous dividends when you re-engage with work and with your family, you will simply be in a better place.

How you can be involved

The theme of this year’s campaign is breaking down barriers to getting active, and we’ve got some hugely inspirational individuals involved. One of whom is Matthew Trigg, who overcame a life-changing injury to compete in the Invictus Games. Keep an eye on our social media profiles to hear from Matt and others from January. 

Join the active wellbeing 2024 campaign today

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  1. Comment by Shuhab Hamid posted on

    Nice one Matt, enjoyed reading your Blog and the benefits of sport on mind, body/soul and productivity in both home/work life...Looking forward to getting more active again in #2024.

    • Replies to Shuhab Hamid>

      Comment by Nhira posted on

      Nice Matt..

  2. Comment by Gavin Thomas posted on

    Thank you, Matt, for promoting this. I would agree from personal experience that being active and taking notice of my environment has been key to managing my wellbeing.

    Unfortunately, our dog passed away approx. 3 years ago, He had provided me with the incentive to go outside for a walk, no matter what the weather was like.

    However, I noted that since his passing, I started to avoid going outside every day when it was wet, windy or cold!

    It was only during a check-up at my local GP practice that I had a wakeup call concerning my health and looked to take regular breaks from my workstation and undertake walks before and I started work and during my lunchbreak.

    Furthermore, to my daily walks, every Sunday morning for a couple hours meet up with a voluntary work party who assist with the management of our local heath and undertake various tasks. Last Sunday, our task was the clearing of debris that had collected in a stream. It was great to see the water flowing again through our collective efforts.

    So, I would agree with you that it is important that everyone seeks to set aside time during their daily lives to be active and manage their wellbeing.