The post-lockdown world has brought with it a whole new set of challenges. From the cost-of-living crisis to the mental health impact of returning to a very different world of work. CSSC’s new CEO, Matt Bazeley OBE, reflects on his first months in the role, and what the organisation is doing to support its members, employees, and volunteers.
Supported by the Cabinet Office, CSSC is a membership organisation for all civil service and public sector employees supported by 1,200 volunteers. It provides opportunities for over 140,000 members to enjoy fitness and leisure activities as well as over 4,000 ways for them to save money daily.
Bazeley joined the business in March 2022, leaving a senior position with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), where he served for over 30 years including operational deployments to Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan as well as roles in Africa and South East Asia.
While he’s now in a completely different role, leading a team of 80, delivering the membership platform exclusively for public sector and civil service employees, Bazeley is relishing the opportunity to take on a new challenge.
“Throughout my career, I have been deployed all over the world and consider my time in those countries to have been amongst the most extraordinary opportunities and experiences. I loved the role and its challenges, but most of all I loved the people," Bazeley said reflecting on his time in the MoD.
He continued: “In 1992 I was commissioned into the Royal Engineers, undertaking various junior officer appointments before completing operational deployments to Bosnia and Kosovo. Later I commanded a Royal Engineer Squadron in Iraq and then deployed to Baghdad to work for General Petraeus in January 2007. I went on to command 28 Engineer Regiment including for their deployment to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, for which I was awarded the Queen’s Commendation. I was also fortunate to receive an OBE in Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Birthday Honours list for more recent work with US and NATO colleagues.”
Commenting on why he joined CSSC, Bazeley explained: “I am passionate about honest, credible leadership. As much as I learned this through the Army, I learned a great deal on the sports field, and I am equally passionate about sports. I believe that sports and recreation have a huge amount to add to the physical and mental well-being of us all. So, when I became aware of the job as CEO of CSSC, I knew I wanted to try and take it on. I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to lead the organisation at a time when our colleagues in the civil service and across the public sector have never been in greater need of support.”
A purpose-driven organisation
Bazeley is "struck by the breadth and range of support the CSSC offers to its members". He explained: "To some, we are a sports organisation, to others a health and wellbeing service, or a leisure business facilitating access to experiences from English Heritage sites or reduced-priced cinema tickets. To many, we are a savings platform that helps manage the day-to-day cost of living challenges we are all having to deal with. In truth, CSSC is all of these things and most importantly, we are a community of like-minded individuals trying to improve our everyday lives."
He recognised that shifting back into gear after two years of covid disruption has understandably had an impact on the lives of CSSC members. "Our focus now is meeting the needs of our incredible volunteer community and membership base, as they emerge, butterfly-like, from two years of lockdown. Now is an opportunity. People want to get out. They want to be entertained, they want to recapture or possibly start their physical well-being journey. But they need to do this in a financially conscious manner, and we are here to support them on that journey and to reach their goals."
Bazeley said CSSC members have the organisation's utmost respect and are truly deserving of CSSC's support. "They are the ‘nation’s true champions’. Unsung heroes that put the Great in Great Britain. If we can do more to help them enjoy the benefits of CSSC membership and thereby enjoy longer, happier, healthier and more fulfilled lives with their loved ones, then our job is done.”
Looking ahead, Bazeley sees CSSC's future with optimism. “One of the founding fathers of CSSC, Noel Curtis-Bennett, writing in ‘The Civilian’ magazine in January 1922 said: ‘The development of sports amongst Civil Servants of all grades, must tend to increase efficiency, good health and comradeship, and that in this way, very material benefits will accrue, not only to us but to our employer, the State' — I believe this is as true today as it was 100 years ago. "
For Bazeley, data proves that a happy, healthy, inspired and energised employee has a significantly higher rate of attendance and productivity than someone without. "I know that across the civil service and public sector, membership of CSSC, with all the material benefits and opportunities it offers, will be seen for what it is: a massive boost and enhancement to both the individual and the employer," he concluded.
For more information about CSSC or to become a member, visit: www.cssc.co.uk