An interview with Brighton Table Tennis Club

Brighton Table Tennis Club has had a lot of coverage for how open and inclusive it is. It has won a Certificate of Sanctuary for how it supports refugees and asylum seekers.  Congratulations.  TogetherintheUK would like to know more. We know that what you do will help people feeling isolated and help their wellbeing, so how do you do it?

How do you make people feel welcome?

Everyone is welcome. There is no ‘gate keeping’ as such.  Once people come into the club, they are met with smiles and encouragement. It is the combination of friendliness and sense of purpose and a sense that there is a definite ‘fun’ atmosphere. 

With outreach work, we maintain the same approach, positive and open to all.

How do people find out about you? Is it word of mouth or do you advertise and if so where?

We have a website and fliers. We work hard to let people know about the club and positively seek out partners, such as schools, local groups, prisons etc. Our weekly lunch link with the Real Junk Food community Cafe allows us to network and share values locally. Word of mouth is crucial and everyone linked to the club is seen as an informal ambassador for BTTC.

Do you need people to translate for new members if they don’t speak English or does just getting on with the game work?

Table Tennis has a shared language of its own and our coaches are very successful at integrating those people who don’t speak English. We would always welcome support with this if anyone wishes to get involved. Our volunteer programme is growing and we welcome more. 

Why do you think the club is so open to different people?

The club has a strong ethos of inclusion which leads to a friendly, vibrant and diverse community which enriches us all. Our values of community, respect, solidarity and also competition at a level that is right for individuals is the basis for our work. 

Are there challenges in working with such a diverse group and how do you manage them?

There are always challenges but we are optimistic that we will always try to minimise any barriers. The common ‘language’ of playing table tennis enables everyone to start from the same place, with varying levels of ability which our coaches can accommodate, but without the hindrance of any background ‘baggage’. 

How do you think what you do supports people in creating their lives in the UK?

It creates happiness, confidence and respect in a non-judgemental setting, where fun and achievement can be realised in a caring community. 

You have had lots of press coverage, a UN video,  do you have plans for the future?

 Lots!!!!  We are both committed and adventurous about our work.  

What advice would you give to other clubs who want to be as welcoming as you?

Develop at grassroots level and maximise your own strengths and values. Be open, enthusiastic and welcoming. 

 What advice would you give to someone new to the UK?

There are so many people and groups who see you as an asset to our communities and want to respect and learn from the opportunities you provide for us. We should all be courageous, despite the barriers that have to be faced. 

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