Brighton Table Tennis Club was founded in 2007 with ‘the strong belief that table tennis can be used as a powerful tool in engaging people of all ages and transforming lives’. Tucked away in a buzzing sports hall off a side street in Kemptown, a melting pot of players come together. Here, the game is being used as the catalyst for building confidence, friendship, skills and community between people from diverse backgrounds, breaking down barriers and prejudice.
BTTC started as a small grassroots project with only two old tables and now welcomes over 1,500 people to play in the club’s weekly sessions. The club primarily invites people who are marginalised to play, but also focuses on being inclusive to all and welcomes people with learning disabilities, young people from the Brighton Travellers’ site, Looked After Children, people with physical disabilities, people from the LGBT community and young asylum seekers, ranging from 2 to 98 years old!
As an example of their work BTTC write that ‘ Harry, Chris and Andrew are the first people with Down’s syndrome in any sport to gain a level one coaching qualification – all of them play and volunteer at the club.’ BTTC also have an extensive outreach programme which includes working weekly in prisons, coaching players to gain a table tennis qualification and are also the first sports club in the world to be awarded the status of ‘Club of Sanctuary’ in recognition of their support of Brighton’s refugee community.
Last year Enjoolata Foundation awarded BTTC a grant so that they could set up free pre and after-school sessions for local primary aged children. BTTC asked teachers to nominate children that they thought would most benefit from sessions – children in receipt of free school meals, children in care and those they think have really struggled during lock down. The project gives these children the opportunity to play in what might be their only extracurricular club, giving both them and their parents/carers the confidence to get involved in new activities. The project will continue through until April this year. To find out more about BTTC visit their website here.