Young people in some of the most deprived areas of England are being introduced to table tennis during the lockdown thanks to two Table Tennis England initiatives.

We are working in partnership with Rackets Cubed, a charity which provides sports, education and food in areas of deprivation, helping young people who often have less available food or nutritious meals, may be further behind in their education and also are known to be less active.

They are working with other local charities and schools to support families at this difficult time, by providing packs containing food and books.

In addition, these families will now get TT Kidz packs containing bats, balls, a roll-net and an activity book to help them keep active in their homes.

A total of 100 TT Kidz packs were sent to an area in Richmond, Surrey, which has the largest council estate in the country, and another 50 packs have gone out to families in Hull. More locations will be added in the coming weeks.

The partnership began just before the lockdown and a programme including table tennis had been planned to start last month but has now been delayed.

However, after the restrictions are lifted, a pilot project will take place in Hull, in partnership with the Goodwin Trust and Goodwin Table Tennis Club, which is a TT Kidz Centre led by Dave Randerson.

The pilot will see 30 students from local primary schools invited to a session where they have an hour’s STEM, Maths or Science lesson and an hour-long TT Kidz session, followed by a hot meal. The youngsters get access to this programme for minimum of 20 weeks.

Table Tennis England’s Head of Development and Volunteering, Greg Yarnall, said: “We have seen a real appetite for the game of table tennis over the past few weeks and we wanted to support those young people and families that may not have access to as much equipment or provision to keep active at these times.

“Many of the families we are supporting in Richmond, for example, may live in tower blocks and not always have easy outdoor access to keep active in a fun and engaging way.

“The TT Kidz packs sent to families will provide them with something a bit different and we hope they will have a new found love of table tennis and look to join local clubs when they are able to return to activity.”

Separately, we are working with eight primary schools in the top 20% of deprived areas to supply TT Kidz participant kit bags to some of their pupils to help keep them and their families active.

The bags include two bats, balls a roll-net and an activity book and they will be sent to pupils who the schools identify, who are in receipt of pupil premium funding and who they feel would benefit most from them.

The schools are already part of the TT Kidz programme and in most cases also have strong club links, which will help the youngsters to continue to engage with table tennis once the current social restrictions have been eased.

The youngsters will also be invited to future sessions of the TT Kidz Afterschool Club – the live half-hour training sessions which we are running every week.

The eight schools we are working with are:

Bridgetown Primary School (Stratford-upon-Avon), Curledge Street Academy (Paignton), Hamstel Junior School (Southend-on-Sea), St Augustine’s Catholic Primary School (Runcorn), St John’s C of E Primary School (Dorking), Sir John Sherbrooke Junior School (Nottingham), St Maria Goretti Primary School (Preston), Whitemoor Academy (Nottingham).