The St Barnabas Address 2017: Charlie Dark

9 November 2017

“Encouragement is something we could all do with a little more of in our lives, encouragement to keep on going, to take risks, to ‘do well’, to achieve, to aspire and to be our true selves – sometimes I need it just to get through the day or to pick up the carrots and hummus instead of the crisps, cheese and a pasty (I’m Northern).

Here at The House of St Barnabas encouragement comes first. As a charity working to change the lives of people affected by homelessness, for everyone under this roof our power to be both encouragers and allowing ourselves to be open to the encouragement of each other is critical. So, you can see that using ‘Encouragement’ as the theme of our first annual St Barnabas Address was a no-brainer for us. Inspired by the man himself: St Barnabas – the patron saint of encouragement – who better to call upon to deliver this message than musician, poet, DJ and founder of Run Dem Crew, Charlie Dark.

And so last month Charlie Dark took to our Chapel to share his journey with us and how encouragement has (and continues) to be the where-would-I-be-without-you force in the most positive moments of his life. He talked us though formative life moments, from walking into a Soho salon as a teenager and sweeping the hair of his absolute heroes including Michael McClaren and Tim Westwood – forming connections that would influence his whole life, to bowing down to his Ghanian mother (who was sitting front row) recognising her as his propelling encourager when he was growing up in the 70s and 80s.

Dark founded Run Dem Crew in 2007, an over five hundred strong running group – ‘a collective of creative heads with a passion for running and the exchange of ideas’. I listened to how RDC encourage each other to run, and to keep on going, fighting through the panting, the ‘I’ve been running for 4 minutes and I’ve already got a stitch’ feeling, and working towards something as mammoth as a marathon. I for one felt encouraged to not watch another fail video, or funny animals on Instagram but to instead don my dusty running trainers for a lap around Victoria Park (3 miles isn’t too shabby, is it?) and it was great: head-clearing, a little remedy for anxiety, all good stuff.

From the many things Dark shared that evening, here are the two simple things I took away with me – be open and I am enough (it’s hard to say that without sounding cliched, but just bear with me). I think it’s true to say that most of us are our own worst critics, but being kind to ourselves and to be our own encouragers is so important …so come on, from time to time make sure you have a friendly word with yourself, remind yourself of your potential, don’t underrate yourself and make sure you do yourself justice.

I’m going to keep it short and wind things up (what could be worse than me rambling on!), but before I go, I hope you won’t mind me asking you something: When was the last time you felt encouraged? When did you last encourage someone? And when did you last stop to think – actually, I’m doing better than I think…because you are, I promise.”

Ki Yoong, Art Manager at The House of St Barnabas and captivated audience member at the inaugural St Barnabas Address on Monday 1st October, 2017.

Wish you were there? Charlie’s words of encouragement are available for all to enjoy. If you want to be uplifted, this is for you.