Brighton Table Tennis Club has won praise for its “ground-breaking” work helping refugees integrate into the local community.
The praise came from Mike Diaper, the executive director of Sport England, on a visit to the club’s Kemp Town home.
He said: “I came away inspired. It was fantastic to visit the Brighton Table Tennis Club and see first-hand the innovative approach to getting diverse communities across Brighton active.
“The work the club is doing with refugees using table tennis to integrate them into their new community, improve their English language skills and just have fun is ground-breaking.”
During his visit Mr Diaper had a short coaching session from club member Naqeeb Saide.
A qualified coach, Naqeeb plays for the club’s Team Afghanistan in the Brighton Table Tennis League.
Mr Diaper added: “Sport England is proud to be able to support the club.”
The table tennis club opens its doors at the Fitzherbert’s Centre, in Kemp Town, seven days a week to players of all ages and abilities.
It hosts sessions for a wide range of groups, among them primary school children, under 16s, over 60s, people with learning disabilities, people with mental health issues, homeless people, looked-after children and young people from the travellers’ community.
Two women-only sessions are held each week.
The club runs regular sessions in five secondary and eight primary schools in the city. And more than 260 students play across three campuses each week at the Greater Brighton Metropolitan College.
The King Alfred 50+ session has an average of 40 players each week.
The club has also been awarded Club of Sanctuary status by the international City of Sanctuary network for its work with young refugees in Brighton and Hove. It is the first club in the world to receive this award.
More recently it carried off the Large Organisation Champion award in the national Community Integration Awards.
Launched last year by the MigrationWork Trust, the awards scheme seeks to inform the integration debate with positive examples and to support organisations doing good work in this field.