The Brighton Table Tennis Club is to set up coaching sessions for homeless people in league with two other local charities.
The ping pong club has won a £4,000 grant from the Sussex Community Foundation to provide the regular outreach sessions.
Coaches will work each week with clients and tenants of Brighton Housing Trust (BHT) at three sites where there will now be tables to play on.
Brighton Table Tennis Club director Tim Holtam said: “We will be operating this project right at the heart of a vulnerable community.
“Our aim will be to encourage positive relationships, improve physical health, self-confidence and self-esteem, encouraging people to learn a new skill or learn more about a previously acquired skill.”
BHT’s client and tenant involvement co-ordinator Juliet O’Brien said: “We are extremely grateful for the support from the Brighton Table Tennis Club.
“We are always looking to increase client and tenant involvement activities. Clients and tenants being professionally coached will be fantastic.
“Client and tenant involvement is central to BHT’s ethos. Benefits to individuals include raising self-esteem and confidence, learning new skills, increasing participation in the wider community, making friends and reducing social isolation.”
The club is also helping patients at Mill View Hospital, in Hangleton, and has won the first national Community Integration Award from the Migration Work Trust.
The award lauded the club for doing something “simple and necessary with such flair and enthusiasm”.
Earlier this year the club became the first British sports club to win Club of Sanctuary status for its work with young refugees.
Sue Lukes, who chaired the judging panel, said: “The Brighton Table Tennis Club is an outward-facing and open project, involving a broad range of communities in Brighton and Hove and collaborating with social services and schools as well as refugee and migrant communities.
“The broad remit contributes to migrants and non-migrants becoming actively engaged in a range of different things in Brighton.
“Working with young people is very positive, especially unaccompanied minors who can find themselves very isolated. Everyone involved can take their learning back into their communities.
“The club works with everyone but reaches out to the most deprived and vulnerable in all communities and ensures that the positive experiences of the white British kids involved means they become ambassadors for tolerance and diversity in their communities.
“We heard about a day in April this year when a Brighton foster family brought their new 13-year-old from Afghanistan to the club to play alongside his white British foster brother.
“Other boys joined in and a United Nations game of doubles, China and Afghanistan v Coldean and London followed.”
Tim Holtam, from Brighton Table Tennis Club, said: “When we play ‘Top Table’ at the club you might find yourself playing with the UK Downs Syndrome Champion, a world over-80 competitor, 2 boys from Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, a former UK Chinese Champion and local kids from all over Brighton and Hove.
“Community integration is at the heart of our work and is particularly important at this time.
“We have ‘sons and daughters’ of our city forming incredible friendships with victims of trafficking from Vietnam and orphaned refugees from Mosul and Aleppo.
“As the incredible Helen Keller said: ‘Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.’”
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