What is HRF?

We would like to start by telling you what HRF is from scratch. This does not mean that all we have said to date is invalid, we simply want to restate. For 12 years, we have generated a lot of information resulting from our research, and we now want to make it available more widely. We also want to take advantage of our new, improved website and we are bringing it to your attention so that you can use it when necessary. Let’s begin!

1. What is HRF? An International Think Tank based in London. Sometimes, another immediate question follows: What is a think tank? A laboratory of ideas that launches lines of thought into society.

2. What is HRF’s aim? We seek a ‘social revolution’ in the home environment or as our slogan says: we want to renew the culture of the home.

3. What does that mean? Well, homes are very important for society and many people have neglected them for some time, so we want to encourage people to return to giving homes all the attention and care they deserve.

4. How are you going to achieve this ‘social revolution’? We have two clear lines of action: theory and practice.
The theory is simply to demonstrate through research with academic institutions and prestigious disciplines, the importance for society of the work involved in running a home, for example, for the health of its members or the global economy. For this reason, we do research and organize Experts Meetings, Symposiums, Academic Conferences or Policy Events. We think it is the most appropriate way to put the issue on the public agenda and open the dialogue with policymakers.
The practical part is what allows us to influence the reality. Based on the information obtained in the research we have conducted and knowing people with expertise in the ‘day to day’ of the home, we train all those who want to learn about or want to improve, the management of their home to build a happy home little by little.

5. And why do you think a think tank like yours is necessary? Simply because the figures show the following:

– Increase in mental disorders in children
– Increase in malnutrition
– Increase in the number of grandparents living in care homes
– Reduction in families who eat home-cooked food
– Increase in the number of hours children spend alone in front of the television or other screens
– Fall in reading among the younger population
– Reduction in the time that parents spend with their children
– The difficulty of work/life balance.

This scenario could make us feel very guilty or push us to blame society in general, but it would be useless. The good thing about stopping to analyse and observe the problem is that we can diagnose it and try to solve it.

Neither the migration of women into work, nor the appearance of new technologies, nor other external factors are the problem, they are simply new actors with whom we will be living for the foreseeable future. And we should simply adapt to the circumstances, and train as well as possible, to use all those new resources in the most efficient way in the management of our homes.

And that’s why HRF is working every day. To detect problems and try to offer solutions through dissemination, training and dialogue.

Now, we hope you understand what HRF is doing. Then, if it seems appropriate, let people know, tell all those who think they may need a little help in the management of their home. And tell us what aspect or area of the home you are worried about, and we will try to investigate it, to demonstrate to the world the importance of the work involved in building a home.


HRF gains UN recognition

In 2016 HRF launched the Global Home Index research project with the aim of finding out what people think about the work required to run a home. It was a challenging project managing a survey that countries throughout the world could take part in and we gained a real insight into how the work of the home is perceived across the globe.

We allied ourselves with strong academic institutions in research and dissemination, which in turn involved a great deal more partners to analyse the huge amount of data. Our joint efforts finally bore fruit and throughout 2017 we were able to present the results of this global research in more than 20 different countries.

Today we are very happy to announce that the Global Home Index has gained formal recognition by the UN and been included in their list of activities over the past year presented to the Secretary-General. We are delighted that an institution of this standing deliberates and takes notice of our work. We are happy and grateful and may we continue to grow from strength to strength in our forthcoming projects.

Thanks also to all those who participated because without your time and effort this would not have been possible. Here is the United Nations report.

Thank you Peter for all your support

It is with great regret that we announce the death of Peter Denis Sutherland SC, one of our patrons. Thank you Peter for all your support. Rest in peace.

We are transcribing the Announcement from the family of Peter D Sutherland SC:

Peter was 71 years of age and died at St. James’s Hospital, Dublin on Sunday January 7th in the presence of his family. He is survived by his loving wife Maruja, née Cabria Valcarcel, his children Shane, Natalia and Ian, ten grandchildren, his sisters Jill and Karen, his brother-in-law David Brennan, his daughters-in-law, his son-in-law, his wider family and friends. He was pre-deceased by his parents Billy and Barbara and his brother David.

Peter suffered a cardiac arrest in London on Sunday 11 September 2016 on his way to Mass at Brompton Oratory. He was substantially impacted by this and was in hospitals in London and Dublin since then. Despite great efforts by his medical staff and his own indomitable spirit, he succumbed to an infection.

Peter was born in Dublin on April 25, 1946. He went to school at Gonzaga College SJ which helped to instil a strong religious faith and where he formed lifelong friendships. He studied law at University College, Dublin and at the King’s Inns. He was called to the Bar in 1969 and practiced law until 1981 when he became Attorney General of Ireland. He was a member of the European Commission from 1985 to 1989. Between 1989 and 1993, Peter was chairman of AIB plc and a director of CRH plc and GPA. From 1993 to 1995, he was Director General of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and subsequently the World Trade organisation. He was subsequently a Partner at and Chairman of Goldman Sachs International and Chairman of BP plc among numerous other roles in the commercial and not-for-profit sector. In 2006, he was proud to be asked to be United Nations Special Representative on Migration by then-Secretary General Kofi Annan. He was renewed in that role by Ban Ki-moon. In 2015, Peter retired from all commercial activities to concentrate on his UN work.

Shane Sutherland, Natalia McEnroe and Ian Sutherland said:

“Above all things, Peter was a family man, totally in love with our mother Maruja from the moment they met almost 50 years ago. He was a wonderful father: loving, teaching, playful. We are consoled that in his last year we were able to repay some of his love and kindness.

“Next for Peter came his faith and his country and, finally, his belief in the European project as a route to peace, prosperity and justice for all.

“He was a devout Catholic. This didn’t make him doctrinaire. Instead, it gave him a lifelong instinct for charity and volunteerism. It wasn’t just about writing the cheque – he wanted to be with people. In the year before the onset of his final illness, he ceased his business activities and devoted himself to working with migrants, many of whom were in wretched circumstances. It was never an easy cause and rarely a popular cause. We were so proud that our father worked for the poorest of the poor.

“We were also so proud of his patriotism whether manifested through supporting his beloved Irish rugby team, his support of education at Gonzaga, UCD, Trinity or elsewhere, his formal and informal service to Irish governments of all hues and his work with the Ireland Fund of Great Britain which he was proud to chair and support.

“Others noticed his success in public life and his material success from business. We loved Papa because he was devoted to us and we to him.”


“Grandparents who care for their grandchildren live longer”, says Renata Kaczmarska of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs

The Home Renaissance Foundation held its 4th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on 16-17 November in London. The event aimed to discuss the vital role of the home in health and wellbeing, both for individuals and for society as a whole.

Participants from more than 15 countries gathered at the prestigious Royal Society of Medicine to discuss a variety of topics which ranged from the benefits of inter-generational interaction in the home to the power of healthcare professionals to promote healthy behaviour in their patients.

Noted speakers included Sir Harry Burns who spoke of the importance of a nurturing family as the basis for a successful life, and Baroness Sheila Hollins who emphasized the need to change paternalistic attitudes towards people with learning disabilities as “it’s fundamental that we all have a right to a family life and this includes children and adults with developmental learning difficulties”.

Professor Elizabeth Robb OBE gave an insightful talk on the importance of healthy family relationships as the foundation for a stable life, as “relationship education is incredibly important to prevent cycles of aggressive and violent behaviour”. Dr Timothy S. Harlan (Dr. Gourmet) from the USA emphasised the benefits of a Mediterranean diet and the advantages of preparing healthy food at home. Renata Kaczmarska of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs addressed the impact of family policies and the need to support parents in the home, including the thought-provoking finding that “grandparents who help care for their grandchildren have a 30% lower risk of mortality and better physical health than those who do not participate in giving care”.

These matters are especially relevant in a world that has seen rapid change and an increasing prevalence of mental health issues. Despite the great variety of topics discussed, a common theme emerged: the importance of a stable, safe home that provides emotional support, empathy and respect. The home is not simply the physical space where we live, but a complex concept that has an incalculable impact on our physical and emotional health and on society as a whole. A home should be safe, nurturing and valued, and governments have a huge responsibility to implement policies that support this.

Home Renaissance Foundation works to raise awareness and recognition of the work of the home and the benefits of stable homes for society.


International lawyer Miriam González Durántez has called for greater recognition of the invaluable work of the home

Home Renaissance Foundation and its UK-based partner, Mothers at Home Matter, launched the results of the British Report of the Global Home Index at the House of Commons.

The guest speaker, Miriam González Durántez applauded the fact that a very substantial amount of our GDP is generated through the support network of the home but said “historically the home has been run by women who didn’t have any power in society. Their contribution has gone therefore unrecognised.”

Following the idea of British journalist Colin Brazier, of Sky News UK, the survey is a comparative study measuring perceptions on the work of the home in 20 countries.

According to the study, answered by over 9, 000 people worldwide, around 60% of participants strongly agreed that homemaking can teach skills applicable to other areas of life. However, at present few families appear to be regularly distributing tasks amongst themselves (15-25% of those surveyed).

One of the lessons to be learnt from the home study includes healthy eating. With almost half of participants claiming to routinely cook homemade meals, many clearly recognise that the home is a critical source of nutrition and paves the way for future dietary awareness. Miriam González relates strongly to this since she feels absolutely satisfied being a homemaker and having built her own home. Her greatest recognition comes from their boys and she joked:  “I am a Spanish Mum so I find myself doing the same things my mother did and with the same ruthlessness. My boys will recognise that, as far as they are concerned, no-one cooks as well as their Mum!”

One of the things that was discussed when the dialogue was opened was the meaning of success. “I am not more or less feminist for following my husband and leaving my job in Brussels because the decision was born from my freedom of choice”, Miriam González Durantez said.

According to Miriam González Durantez, the concept of success is changing. She would not be a successful woman if one side of her life failed. Both family and professional lives should come together to consider that it is a success. She recognises that her success comes not only from her effort and hard work but the environment where she grew up.

The research points out that the home must be considered in the design of future public and corporate policies. And it should serve as a reference point when considering the societal benefit of a new policy.

Fiona Bruce, MP for Congleton, who hosted the event, confirmed that she and David Burrowes have lined up a meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss future policy that puts the family first.


Event at the House of Commons

The launch of the Global Home Index results will take place on November 6th at the House of Commons in London. Due to the General Election, the event had to be rescheduled and we would like to thank MS. Fiona Bruce, member of Parliament for her hosting and giving us this opportunity. It will be an honour to present the findings of this international research in order to show the reality of the work of the home in the United Kingdom and around of the world.

So far, United States, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, El Salvador, Portugal, Italy or Spain are only some of the countries where HRF and our two main partners have presented this first report.

We are very pleased to announce that the lawyer Mrs. Miriam González Durántez, Mr. Nick Clegg´s wife, will be our honorary speaker. She is co-chair of the firm’s International Trade and Government Regulation practice at Dechert.

More than 9,000 people from 94 countries across 5 continents participated in this Global Home Index study which you can find here. This first report is a comparative study of 20 countries on the recognition of the work of the home. Please click here to participate, your view makes a valid contribution to society.


  • 1.30-2.45pm.: Light lunch refreshments

Jubilee Room at House of Commons

  • 2.45-4.14pm.: For Presentation & Discussion

Committee Room 16 at House of Commons


Less is more, or not!

The more children you have, the less quality of life? Think again!
I have a friend who is something else. I don’t usually brag about friendships but I can’t help giving this dear friend a special mention.  Regardless of the particular country where I happen to be working or visiting, the circle of friends in which I find myself – be it a family reunion or a discussion about children and family life – my friend immediately springs to mind. Some people call her and her husband crazy but I haven’t noticed a constant stream of what might be classed ‘sensible’ people in my travels.

Each time she says she has a big announcement to make, you know in your heart it must be the news she has been sharing with us for a number of years – that they are expecting another baby. They now have 9 children – and as you come to get to know each child, your whole perception of what it means to be part of a large family changes.

The first comment people usually make when I talk about the family is “Of course they will surely be from some radical religious group?” And I am amused because my answer is, “I don’t know or care, but what I do know is that they belong to a group of people who possess a quality we should all imitate -generosity.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean that their like-minded group of friends have equally large families but, economics aside,  they are all generous and give of themselves completely. I might not pass that test of sheer selflessness.

When you walk through their front door it immediately feels like a home. The first thing that hits you is the buzz and vibrancy of children offering to help. The disorder expected is non existent as everyone has a designated role to play, something they’ve been taught from a young age. Their five-year-old was setting the table, taking dishes from the cupboard at his height level and carefully arranging the knives and forks on the table. I could have offered to do it for him but I thought better of it.

There’s no need to speak about equality in this house because clearly, their home belongs to everyone. Their sons and daughters divide the chores equally and both parents manage to work outside the home, neither having to give up their chosen profession.

People often ask me if they have lots of nannies and are rich to afford so many children. The answer is negative to both those questions. But sometimes I don’t even bother to answer as it’s clear that, even after explaining everything, they still don’t understand that a team of 11 is much stronger than a team of just 3 – for prejudices of this nature are hard-wired into the human brain.



The rise of the plastic home


By Joanna Roughton.

I recently recorded a video diary for a TV news item.

It involved a week in which my family and I would try and cut back on the use of plastic in our home.

The TV producers wanted to underline to viewers just how much single-use plastic we throw away.

Because, when things like plastic bottles, containers and wrapping end up in the bin, they often find their way into our seas.

Once in the ocean, the plastic enters the food chain. On current trends, by 2050, the amount of plastic in the sea will weigh more than all the fish.

So a problem then.

How did we get on?

Well, the first thing to say is that when you try to abstain from using something, you recognise the scale of the problem.

It’s a little like giving up wine for Lent. You might not succeed, but at least you acknowledge how much you’ve been getting through.

Perniciously, the amount of single-use plastic we use grows year on year.

When I was a child, the milkman delivered our milk in bottles. Now it comes in plastic. Years ago, when you bought a soft drink you paid a deposit on the glass bottle it came in. Now it comes in throwaway plastic. Plastic straws have supplanted paper straws. Plastic cups have taken the place of paper cups. On and on it goes.

But it’s only when you make a conscious effort to notice that you realise how much plastic has rendered itself seemingly indispensable to our everyday activities.

There is an alternative, of course. It is possible to ignore the supermarket and use a market. You can buy fruit and vegetables from a stall. They are wrapped in paper bags, or you can tip them straight into a ‘bag-for-life’.

And, because most plastic-wrapped food is processed, by cooking more food from scratch, the plastic burden falls.

Much of the plastic in our kitchens is there for our convenience. It speeds things us up. Reducing our dependence on it is time consuming.

When women like my mother ran a home, they had time to return bottles for a deposit or to chat amiably to stall-holders in the town centre market. Now we all work, the scope for such time-consuming, environment-protecting activities has withered.


The ‘right to disconnect’

By Joanna Roughton.


A friend of mine has a big job with the NHS.

It involves working in a major teaching hospital and administering a budget running to hundreds of millions of pounds.

She works long days which can often involve back-to-back meetings.

At any time during her working day she may be called upon to make life and death decisions.

At the very least she often has to contend with delicate personnel management issues.

There is little ‘down’ time.

Last week I took my friend for supper. She looked shattered, as well she might. Her home life is loving and supportive. But with young children and a working spouse, home is no holiday camp.

But what really surprised me was the extent to which work intrudes into her home life, especially via emails. As she pointed out, the NHS is a 24-hour operation. However, even she was astonished by the number of emails sent to her overnight recently. On this ‘day’ her inbox received 18 emails between midnight and 6am.

I thought of her when reading reports of a study published in the past few days which showed that office workers are more stressed at home than at work.

The research, published in the latest edition of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, analysed 550 London staff from the French bank BNP Paribas.

The subjects wore wrist monitors to measure heart rates. They suffered ‘spikes’ in their stress levels when they allowed their time at home to be interrupted by work.

Co-author of the study, David Plans, said the culture of always working was “killing people”.

He said: “Dealing with work while at home is pernicious to health and is directly linkable to cardiovascular disease. That is now measurable and before it was not.”

The French, as you may know, have introduced a law to stop this happening. The ‘right to disconnect’ came into effect on New Year’s Day.

It obliges companies with more than 50 workers to draw up a charter of good conduct, setting out the hours staff are not supposed to send or answer emails.

The French economy is far from perfect. The country’s 35-hour working week has been widely pilloried and unemployment is forcing a growing number of Frenchmen and women to find jobs in the UK, where the hours are longer, but vacancies exist.

But when it comes to the ‘right to disconnect’ the French have surely hit upon an important intervention.

Technology has a pernicious ability to chip away at our personal space, to penetrate the peace of our homes, without ever really seeking our permission.

In a sense it was easier in the days when someone taking work home apologised to the children before salting themselves away in the study for an hour.

Now the smarthphone means that mummy or daddy may appear to be ‘present’, but as they glance at their device, their mind is actually elsewhere.


Best Friends Forever?

By Joanna Roughton.

So it’s been said. Officially. People have just as much of a duty to look after their elderly parents as they do to care for their own children.

The words came from a Government minister in the House of Commons. David Mowat, a health minister, was addressing the select committee on communities and local government. But he was really speaking to the the great elephant in the room of state expenditure. Social care.


Hitherto, the conventional wisdom in policy-making circles has been to demand greater resources for social care. With a rapidly ageing population, this has led to fears that the taxpayer could face an unlimited bill for looking after our old folk in care homes.

Occasionally, a new element is introduced into this discussion, often by MPs or commentators whose roots lie outside of the UK. People born in the Indian sub-continent or Africa struggle to comprehend the unwillingness of their Western neighbours to share a home with their elderly parents. After a while they stop noticing and cease drawing unfavourable parallels.

Which makes Mr Mowat’s intervention all the more remarkable. Here’s an excerpt of what he told the select committee. “One of the things that has struck me is no one ever questions that we look after our children – that is obvious. No one says that is a caring responsibility, it is what we do,” he said.

“I think some of that logic and some of the way we think about that in terms the volume of numbers that we are seeing coming down the track will have to impinge on the way that we think about caring for our parents. Because it is a responsibility in terms of our life cycle which is similar.”

In a sense what Mr Mowat is arguing for, a seemingly revolutionary shift in social attitudes, may not be quite as far fetched as it might appear.

We are already witnessing a quiet evolution in household composition. Parents and children no longer obey the old rules. Those rules involved a child leaving home in their late teens or early 20s and forging their way in the world. The symbol of that new found independence was a roof over their heads. Now, of course, things are different. Young people struggle to get a foot on the housing ladder and even those who leave home to attend university often ‘boomerang’ back to the family nest.

So the clear delineation between childhood and adulthood has blurred. Many parents, particularly parents of small families, now freight their parenthood with expectations that previous generations would have been shocked by. It is now normal for a mother to expect a daughter to become her BFF – her Best Friend Forever.

We do not know where this process will end. Long term co-habitation with ageing parents may become the norm for a cohort of younger people who can never afford their own property.

The question we do not yet have an answer for is this?

Will a generation of children who never fly the parental home, feel an enhanced sense of filial obligation?

It is reasonable to assume that having saved on the expense of a mortgage, and the inconvenience of running a home themselves, they will owe mum and dad a debt?

It is also reasonable to assume that having lived with their parents for longer, they will have deeper bonds of association?

A Best Friend Forever must, surely, feel more inclined to care for an increasingly frail parent than a child who left home at 18. This is why Mr Mowat may be onto something.