Breaking Down Barriers in Brighton

Photo credit: Alexis Maryon

Brighton is one of the best-known seaside resorts in the UK, famous for its large and diverse cultural, music and arts scene and welcomes over 9.5 million visitors per year. The city hosts one of the world’s largest LGBTQ+ events in Brighton Pride and is also home to the UK’s only Green MP. Encompassing some of these inspirational and diverse principles of the city is Brighton Table Tennis Club (BTTC).

The club was founded in 2007 and was recognised nationally at the Daily Mirror’s Pride of Sport Awards in 2019 as ‘Club of the Year’. 

Today, the club has its own centre in Kemptown and runs a total of 199 tables across the city in parks, squares, schools, sheltered housing schemes, a centre for homeless people, sports centres and a psychiatric hospital. 

Some of the amazing day-to-day work delivered by the team and volunteers at BTTC include open and coached sessions at the club, but also outreach sessions at the other venues mentioned above as well as two prisons outside the city.

Brighton Table Tennis Club engaged with over 1500 participants a week last year and this number is made up of people of all ages and all walks of life, including people with learning disabilities, young people from the Brighton Traveller’s site, Looked After Children, people with physical disabilities, people from the LGBTQ+ community and young asylum seekers.

Founder and Director Tim Holtam explains why Table Tennis is the ideal sport to deliver on BTTC’s wider vision to create An integrated community where people from all backgrounds play table tennis together while breaking down barriers and prejudice.

Tim Holtam said:

“Table Tennis is uniquely accessible and has an irresistible simplicity. Everyone has played on holiday or at a Youth Club. It has an incredibly low barrier to entry yet takes years to master.”

BTTC is also a centre of sporting success. It has two teams in the senior British League, many junior leagues and among the clubs members are medal winners in the UK Down’s National Championship and the World Championship for players with Down’s Syndrome. 

The fantastic work of BTTC has not gone unnoticed and received recognition from ex Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who visited the club in 2017 and even tried his hand at a quick game, which can be seen here!

BTTC has been extremely busy and adapted its approach in response to Covid-19. Fitness and Yoga sessions have been taking place online to maintain fitness levels and the BTTC Daily Show is a great way the club has checked in on members and helped to keep spirits high.

They have also been working harder than ever to support those struggling from the impact of the pandemic by setting up a food distribution service, called BTTC Food Hub.

Here at Upshot we are proud to shine the spotlight on members of our community who deliver such great work in their local area.

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(Photo credits: Alexis Maryon)