Minister for sport, Mims Davies, has given Brighton Table Tennis Club (BTTC) her seal of approval during a visit to meet members, staff and volunteers.
Ms Davies described the club as a “unique and unprecedented project” and joined in with games during a session for young people, which she said was excellent.
Club founder and director Tim Holtam welcomed the minister, whose portfolio also covers civil society and loneliness.
He said: "BTTC has been greatly supported by Sport England, and more recently, the Ministry for Communities, Housing and Local Government and the Home Office to deliver projects that are bringing diverse communities together through table tennis.”
Ms Davies was presented with a painting of Brighton’s i360 by 15-year-old club member Tihami Pillant to hang in her office at the department of culture, media and sport, as a reminder of her experience.
BTTC delivers community integration projects from its base in Kemptown and across the city, including coaching sessions in schools, sheltered housing schemes, a centre for homeless people and a psychiatric hospital, as well as two prisons outside of Brighton.
A charity with a broad membership, the club has brought more than £300,000 into the city to support community work and create jobs in times of austerity, and is recognised as the UK’s first Sports Club of Sanctuary for its work with unaccompanied refugee minors.
Mr Holtam believes sport can play a critical role in promoting inclusion.
He said: “Social cohesion and stronger local communities are increasingly important in the current climate of xenophobia and hostility."