The current climate has presented Table Tennis England with some additional opportunities to form new partnerships and engage with a host of different sectors in order to reach diverse communities negatively effected by the pandemic. By working with these partners, the organisation can help tackle issues including inactivity and social isolation while opening up the sport to people who would not otherwise have access to it.
Community Integrated Care, one of the UK’s biggest and most successful social care charities, is one such partner; they have piloted the use of table tennis in a range of settings – from delivering activity sessions in specialist dementia care homes and learning disability supported living services, through to utilising the game in mental health talking therapies.
Having enjoyed incredible outcomes in these pilot projects, Table Tennis England provided additional support through providing ‘Play at Home’ packs to almost 200 care services to access table tennis starter packs during the early months of the Coronavirus pandemic – helping to keep people physically and mentally stimulated during lock-down.
John Hughes, Director of Partnership and Communities at Community Integrated Care, says:
As a charity, we are committed to enabling the people we support to enjoy active and full lives. Having seen the impact of promoting table tennis in a range of settings, when lockdown hit, we felt it would be an ideal activity to help deliver at scale – meaning that staying at home wasn’t a barrier to staying active.
To support people to play, as well as referring to Table Tennis England’s Play at Home resources, the charity have also developed www.CareToPlay.co.uk, a bespoke resource which aims to inspire care workers and families to promote this accessible, adaptable and socially distanced sport.
The website was designed to give people the confidence, skills and understanding to enable others to enjoy table tennis as a person-centred activity. It has been created by people who have a brilliant insight into sport and social care.
Colin Eley, Partnerships Manager at Table Tennis England, says:
It’s important people find their own way to engage with table tennis and do so at a level which is both achievable and enjoyable. It is therefore commendable how Community Integrated Care have tailored their approach to promote the game to some that maybe picking up a bat for the first time, we know table tennis is a ‘Sport for all for Life’, and that initial exposure to the game is key to continuing.