Work & Care

Whenever we organise an event, such as last week’s round table in Madrid, giving visibility to the work that Home Renaissance Foundation has been doing since 2006, we receive messages for days afterwards. They are messages of thanks for making relevant a subject as basic and at the same time as important as the work of the home. But these thanks are mutual, as we would not be able to move forward without donations, the support of institutions, researchers and your enthusiasm and engagement.

One of our mottos has always been “to make the invisible visible” because housework is often intangible, but it does not lose value because of this, on the contrary, it gains by it. We all begin life needing this work to be done for us to thrive in later life. Housework is the visible sign of the loving selfless care offered in the home.

The Italian sociologist Pierpaolo Donati said at the symposium on Care organised by the UIC last weekend in Barcelona that societies that destroy or attack families disappear because it is precisely in the home where personal virtues are transformed into social ones. In other words, I may learn to be generous in my immediate environment, but it is only through the family that I can be generous in society. “The home is the engine of trust, solidarity and reciprocity, virtues that neither the state nor society can teach in the way the home can and does.”

The recently appointed rector of the CEU University of Valencia, Higinio Marín, claimed human beings would not survive if it were not for the care of their elders. This looking after is vital for many years, and the aim is for those who are looked after to be able to not only look after themselves but to care for others. He added that this care is even more beautiful in that we continue to care for people even when death arrives since human beings are the only species on the planet that buries its dead. Even when we die there is care.

The philosopher Francesc Torralba proposed for today’s society the necessity of finding leadership based on care. For care to be at the center of decision-making.  Today we live in a society embedded in uncertainty, in volatility, where only the fastest to adapt wins. Faced with these characteristics, homes have to prepare themselves to form future leaders who understand the reciprocity of care, for individuals, for institutions and, not forgetting, the care of the planet as our common home.

Such interesting ideas and enriching dialogues inspire us greatly to continue working for and with households, central pillars of this society. We will be showing step by step that without them it is not possible to move forward.
The event we organised last week at the Fundación Telefónica has already been watched by more than 1000 people on youtube. If you missed it, you can watch it here.

Home & Work

On Tuesday we had the opportunity to return to the Espacio Fundación Telefónica in Madrid to present the results of the research we have carried out with the International Centre for Work and Family (ICWF) at Iese Business School on the impact of housework on our personal, family and professional lives.


Accompanied by a group of experts, we had an enjoyable and richly nuanced conversation in which we concluded that housework may not get the best press, but as a society, we have an obligation to give it the value it deserves because of the great impact it has on our personal development.

As family therapist José Miguel Cubillo pointed out, in most households around the world, housework has to be done and someone has to do it. “The home is a source of rest, rest is in order and order comes through small acts of love, of dedication. An act of love can be folding a towel or putting a comb in a drawer.” The point is that these small gestures generate a feeling of gratitude towards those who make them. And gratitude is the door to happiness.

In this sense, Begoña Pérez, known as La Ordenatriz on social networks and who has millions of followers, acknowledged that “nowadays we prepare ourselves a lot for the professional world and we denigrate home management because we think it is easy but suddenly we discover that it is not”. She added that, since practically 100% of women work outside the domestic sphere, the transmission of this management, which used to take place at home, has been lost. It is a generational issue and, moreover, socially, housework is not valued, it is valued that it is done, but the effort of those who do it is not recognised.

According to the HRF/ICWF study, companies are the first to benefit from the fact that homes are a source of stability; a rested employee is an engaged employee. Experts recommend that companies develop policies that favour work-life balance – to be able to disconnect and reconnect with the workplace after being refreshed by home life.  In this regard, the Director of Innovation at Mutua Madrileña and former head of cities at Ferrovial, Carmen del Campo, emphasised the need for employees to feel linked to the project of the company where they work, because in this way the company can take into account the priorities of its employees and meet them. In the case of Ferrovial, a parents’ school was created to teach how to manage a home, which provided tools for the future. As an initiative it brought workers together into an environment in which everyone has room for improvement. Mutua Madrileña, it is a company that gives a lot of space to the family environment and organises cultural and volunteer activities for families that encourage responsible parenthood. This provision helps to link the employee to the company, offering not only professional but also personal growth. Something which is difficult to include in a salary package but has incalculable value.

Naturally, we also discussed the impact of technology and its influence on family life. In our research, data revealed that phubbing could hinder family relationships. Journalist and director of Technology at Alabra María Zabala explained that while that technology, can exacerbate the problems we encounter on a day-to-day basis, it is not to blame. We are experiencing so many changes across, social, digital, relational, communicative, work-related spheres, and we have to take responsibility for how we respond, but it is society as a whole, the developers and also legislators who must ask themselves what these advances are for.. Education in digital terms is played out at home and conversations at home with our partners and our children should lead us to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong in this fast-moving world.

María Zabala added that technology brings complications, but also opportunities that we should not give up due to lack of information. She encouraged us: Let’s not only look at the bad. Let’s learn to praise the good and applaud the good decisions, not just point out the mistakes.

There was so much more that was shared in this excellent session but I shall close with Begoña Pérez’s secret for understanding and valuing the significant effort involved in building and caring for a home, on which our happiness depends: mental and spiritual order. What is it our heart asks of us? To take care of home from the inside of ourselves because it is that from which we can make the most of our home for others too.

In conversation with…

As you know, in September we will be holding an Experts Meeting to find out how households can become allies in the face of climate emergencies. HRF, NTU and UN-DESA will be the organisers. Prof. Gamal Abdelmonem is leading this project and we wish to thank him for all that he is doing to raise awareness of this issue. We have spoken to him and here is the interview.

On 28-29 September an Expert Meeting will take place at Nottingham Conference Centre to address the relationship between households and Climate Change. How did the idea come about?

Climate Change has always been a long-term and standing research agenda for both the Home Renaissance Foundation and my Research Centre at Nottingham Trent University. We all have a duty and commitment to address Climate Change through our research work, studies, and analysis of current attitudes towards the environment. With our focus on the home and family, the key victims of the impact of Climate Change worldwide, we have been working on the best way to develop a collective research effort to address how the home as a key societal, cultural and economic unit, can contribute to this global challenge.

Through my participation at the United Nation’s Family Focused Regional Meeting in Cairo in June 2022, I had an interesting conversation with Ms Renata Kaczmarska, where we discussed joining our efforts in a pioneering event that brings our experts and scholars on the family and home to address the challenges of Climate Change, in the build-up for the UN-DESA Year of Climate Change in 2024. It was a clear meeting of mindsets and research ambitions to work together. At this point the idea was born and later materialised with the support of HRF Chair, Mr Bryan Sanderson and the Directors at its Directors’ Meeting earlier this year.

What is expected from such a meeting and what perspectives will be addressed?

Over the past few months, we conducted our research to highlight the key strands and themes where the interest and activities of families and home can contribute to combating Climate Change. Despite its broad and wide coverage that can cover every aspect of our lives, we highlighted five key aspects and research strands that can offer strong research agenda and practical and innovative solutions to how family and home can make substantial efforts to address it. We then identified and approached international experts with a track record of research in this area to contribute to the collective discussion and the meeting specialist expert report.

Through rigorous research review and analysis, all contributors will produce specialised papers to address one of the themes, which will be peer-reviewed at three levels to contribute to the Expert meeting seminar at a 2-day event in Nottingham, as you highlighted. Following the debates and discussion during the meeting, a collective and edited expert report will be issued and will be part of the UN-DESA Scholarly and scientifically validated approach to how family/home can contribute to combating Climate Change in simple, practical and innovative ways. We will bring experts who cover wider geographic and research fields, but all focus on the home as a central focus of this report.

There are geographical areas that are already experiencing climate emergencies, for example as a result of drought, how can these households be helped?

Climate Change is a global challenge and a catastrophe that is waiting to happen. We all experience it in different ways, and some regions of the world experience it more promptly than others. So, I strongly believe, and research has confirmed that we all have to collectively act.  Certainly, drought in Africa, wildfires in the US and Australia, glacier meltdowns, and tsunamis are amongst the most recent events to alert us that no one is safe. But, when it comes to those in most urgent need for help, either families who are dying out of drought, or out of cold and limited supplies in the refugee camps following storms and earthquakes in Pakistan and Syria, we can do a lot to help.

Collectively, we need to contribute by either direct financial support through charities that look at families’ and children’s needs in those extreme situations, but also provide infrastructure support to either develop new modes of water resources or by building shelters to help families in those regions. These are very basic and minimal needs to help those vulnerable families and children to survive such devastating situations. But my belief is we need to do much more, through economic support, building infrastructure as future investment in new renewable resources in those regions to operate and become safe places for communities and families. We need to treat those geographical regions as if they are our own homes and families. If we want to combat global warming, we can do it now in those regions and help those vulnerable families. If we fail to stop it now, we will not survive in Western countries.

Can households and families be allies in this ecological transition? What steps should be taken?

Yes, absolutely. Families are the basic and most powerful societal and economic unit as I mentioned before. If you have any doubt, look at how we managed to beat COVID-19 Pandemic: only through family and home-based response, where the home and family have become a place of work, education, social care, health and trade. In fact, if we do not focus our efforts and attention to the role families and homes play in our ecological transition towards a carbon-neutral planet, we are doomed. Over decades, we came to learn that if changing policies and consumption models do not change the attitudes of households and families in their daily lives, little or perhaps no change will ever be achieved. In this meeting and generally at HRF and at NTU, we attempt to reverse this perception, and place home and family not as contributors, but in fact champions of economical and carbon-neutral life. If families are aware of the danger to their wellbeing, the future of their families, young people and children, they have the capacity, well and power to change our way of living, modes of consumption, and support government or international policies and action plans to combat climate change.

To give you an example, only when the energy prices went up in the UK and Europe, did attitudes towards energy consumption and fossil fuel change, and during COVID-19 lockdowns, when we worked from home, our cities became largely carbon neutral overnight. This is not to suggest making life difficult and unaffordable. It is just telling us how powerful the change we can achieve if we put our focus on the family and their daily living and livelihoods.

We have to wait for experts’ research, but how can academic meetings of this kind help society?

Of course. Academic research that has a limited impact on our way of life, becomes very short-sighted. Our research and academic meetings are always geared to understand our current behaviour, attitudes, and cultural and economic attitudes and how to change and improve them. Our meeting will fall into this category of impact-led and practical research. Our interest is in bringing together expert and curious minds to explore what we do wrong and how to better learn from best practices, scientific evidence and successful experiences. This way, sharing knowledge and educating families across the globe is our shared mission as scientists and researchers. I can refer here too to the role of science to help us get through COVID-19. If we managed to beat COVID-19 through science and innovation, we can do the same regarding Climate Change. Research is very much pivotal in our effort and our success. I hope our meeting contributes a little to that collective effort. The report we will produce should give examples of best practices and innovation to be spread and used as a reference globally.

Home and Climate Emergencies 

As you will know, 15th of May is the International Day of the Family. We will join ONLINE with the United Nations, who this year will analyse in different round tables the demographic changes that society is experiencing.

For next year’s edition, HRF has an exciting challenge: to present to the UN a report based on research and expert dialogue on Homes and Climate Emergencies.

The home has consistently been the most resilient and adaptable social and economic unit where fundamental challenges or changes to our world have been met, endorsed or resisted. From responding to natural disasters, divisions, conflicts or instability, family was the base from which resilience or rebuilding emerged and evolved. More recently, when COVID-19 global pandemic led to international lockdowns across the planet and social and economic systems came to a halt, our societies withdrew to the safe territory of the home and the social support of the family. As the economy, healthcare and social care moved from public systems to the local and community support system, the family was revealed again as the true centre of resilience and rebuilding.

In parallel, mobility and travel were curtailed, our carbon footprint was substantially reduced, our cities became greener, we turned to local suppliers, produce and social support. In the face of a global emergency, the home and family instantly and instinctively emerged as the resilient unit on which our society can rely and through which we can adapt and reset our systems and global operations. Lessons were learnt, adaptability and flexibility were tested, and it worked.

Why, therefore, should we look elsewhere to build resilience and response mechanisms to combat Climate Change?

HRF together with Nottingham Trent University and United Nations will be holding an Expert Meeting in September to explore the role home and family play in the transition towards a sustainable and carbon-neutral planet, where our carbon footprint is neutralised by offsetting our consumption with the production of clean energy and sustainable lifestyle.

Building on the lessons learnt during COVID-19 Pandemic, and the global response to a universal emergency, this meeting will bring experts, scholars and scientists from diverse disciplines, professions, and research backgrounds to debate the challenges and opportunities facing the home as societal institutions to achieve that goal. The meeting will try to respond to a key question, ‘how can we engage more effectively with the home and family as a resilient unit to help societies and economies combat Climate Change?’

How can “us” and “them” become “we”?

By Susan Peatfield

‘The title of this post was a defining question of HRF’s Expert Meeting on The Home and Displaced People, held in Washington DC.

The “othering” of the displaced has long been recognized as a barrier to successful integration – to feeling at home in a new place amongst new people. Across the world, the question of how to manage the needs and expectations of would-be new citizens is becoming harder to answer by the day. Just as with more migrants, both economic and political, finding themselves on the move, the need for answers becomes more urgent.

In the UK, much controversy and debate has recently been provoked by the Home Secretary’s Rwanda policy. This would require migrants seeking residence in the UK to be processed and settled in the central African country. The legality – as well as feasibility – of the scheme is being contested as this article is being written.

Beyond the rights and wrongs of this policy, though, are the wider questions of the ability of a country to provide a welcome to those who arrive on its borders. These are relevant questions to do with social infrastructure: housing,  health and education provision. It is rightly argued that the welcome offered will depend on what is available to be shared. And on the perspective of those asked to do the sharing.

Also in the United Kingdom, but not limited to here, the policy of housing the displaced in under-used accommodation, such as hotels, often in already deprived areas of the country leads to conflict between locals and migrants. The perception, and often the lived experience, is that there is too little in terms of services to go round.

Real questions do need to be asked here, but it is also worth noticing that much of the debate is predicated on the “othering” of people, of the burden they represent rather than the opportunity of being at home – making a home – together.

Professor Myria Georgiou, Chair in Media and Communications at the LSE, throws a valuable sidelight onto this issue by looking at the situation from the perspective of a shared dialogue. She argues, in work presented in Washington DC, that the process of the reconstruction of home is in fact the process of regaining the strength and the right to belong. Professor Georgiou’s focus is on the making of a “Digital Home”; the ways in which those who arrive can remain connected to support networks in their first home countries, and also find ways of establishing strong and beneficial relationships in their new ones.

At HRF we recognize that this is not a simple topic, nor is it one that is going to go away. Greater respect and understanding for what a home means for us all is, we believe, key to finding policies which open minds and doors as well as borders.’

Mine + Yours = Ours

Here is the epilogue of our latest Communication Project ‘Home and Happiness’ by the philosopher and director of HRF, Maria Teresa Russo. She sums up excellently what people from different countries and different ages wanted to express as a part of this enriching experience. Hope you enjoyed reading the project and share your thoughts with us in the comments.

“According to Martin Seligman, founder of Positive Psychology, “genuine happiness consists in experiencing positive emotions about the past and the future, in savouring positive sensations derived from the many pleasures of existence, in deriving abundant gratification from one’s personal capacities, and in using those capacities in the service of something greater to give it meaning”.

It seems to me that this definition is faithfully reflected in the answers collected here. On the one hand, it is the small satisfied tastes, the comforting rituals, a certain amount of comfort, even physical comfort, that contribute to our subjective well-being. They are the “little joys” that bring joy to everyday life.

On the other hand, it is above all relationships, especially family relationships, that satisfy our desire for a happiness that is more than just feeling good. It is not by chance that two words recur in these answers and in the drawings, both of adults and of children: love and family.

Love as sharing, as caring for others, as listening and telling stories. Family as an affective space in which to receive – security, support, shelter – but also to give – time, attention, a smile. And the home is the framework of this everyday life made of customs and novelties; the place from which one leaves and to which one returns, where the memory of the past and the expectation of the future mingle. Domestic happiness made up of chores and celebrations, of the necessary and the superfluous, where one wishes to rest unhurriedly with one’s loved ones. A welcoming space where it is pleasant to be, because mutual care makes it possible for what is mine and what is yours to become “ours”.

The wish or hope is that this can be realised, always and in every home in the world.”

Home and Happiness



This Communication Project is “close to home” as within its pages it touches on things closest to us all. When we asked the question “What makes you happy?” we were not looking this time for expert analyses but heartfelt responses. And this is certainly what we received. As you read the thoughts of a rich variety of voices and look at the drawings sent to accompany them it is hard not to be moved. For at the heart of happiness are those we love.

The quality of our relationships has the greatest impact on our lives. Our personal well-being is inextricably linked to how we relate to those around us. There is increasing evidence that health and economic outcomes are also shaped by this – those in strong and stable unions enjoy both the daily and life-long benefits of being in good relationships. Of being able to thrive, not just survive.

At Home Renaissance Foundation we know that good relationships start at home. They are built and modelled when we are young and equip us to build positive relationships. Supporting the home supports the flourishing and well-being of each new generation, as the many young contributors to this report can testify.

We hope you will enjoy reading this report and commend it to you now as an encouragement to value all those things closest to home for us all.

Home and mental health

The importance of good mental health is a message that is slowly making its way through society. We are increasingly aware that emotional wellbeing is essential for the individual, but it is also essential for the economy, as it is estimated that the global economy loses around one trillion dollars a year in productivity due to anxiety and depression alone.

Unfortunately, and this is why warnings have been raised, the pandemic has triggered high levels of psychological distress. There were already signs before covid-19 of worsening mental health among citizens, but it has been weakened by widespread closures, disruptions to routine and, in many cases, unemployment. While there are many nuances and in general, all citizens were affected by feelings of loneliness, anxiety, shortness of breath or palpitations, according to a Pew Research Centre survey, women were more prone to episodes of anxiety than men and people from lower-income households.

The World Economic Forum’s 2022 Global Risks Report warned that deteriorating mental health is among the top five risks. The pandemic and its consequences had a direct impact on social cohesion and people’s well-being. But not only. In fact, children’s mental health tops the list of parents’ concerns. Parents fear that their children could suffer from anxiety or depression and think that the main trigger could be their children’s use of social networks.

At HRF we are sensitive to these issues because we believe that the home should be the place where people develop their emotional wellbeing in the most stable way and that in situations like Covid-19, homes should be prepared to cushion its effects and provide the person with the necessary tools that allow them to successfully cope with potential disruptions.

As you read this post, today, Thursday 16th March, the Home Renaissance Foundation team is attending as an observer think tank the Expert Meeting that The Family Watch has organised at the Ateneo de Madrid. The aim is to find out from psychologists and psychiatrists what are the causes of this worsening of mental health and how we can work to improve it.

The 2023 Barometer of this think tank revealed that the consumption of anxiolytics had skyrocketed in Spanish households in 2022. The causes of this deterioration in mental health in adults are to be found above all in economic difficulties (70%), feelings of loneliness (46%), and uncertainty in general (43%). With regard to young people, the impact on mental health points to the Internet. Thus, Spanish families consider that the main reasons for the deterioration of young people’s mental health are the influence of social networks (53%), the increase in bullying at school (43%) and low self-esteem (39%).

The data, in general, are aligned even depending on the source, we are facing a worrying panorama, with a complicated diagnosis but which allows us to know the causes in order to be able to work on the necessary measures to emerge stronger from this situation.

The home, a long-distance race

The home is of incalculable value to the individual, but it is very little recognised. It is the cradle of our happiness. The home is an investment in the future. There is a viral phrase on social media that sums up very well one of the purposes of our foundation: “An emotionally healthy child is an intelligently happy adult”. And the home is, without a doubt, that environment in which to flourish.

Let’s look back, let’s think about the home we had or the home we have created and try to separate what is in me from what I am now, the fruit of that home and what I have contributed.

Let’s start at the beginning, our parents and the relationship between them. How they treat each other, how they look at each other, how they take care of each other, something that seems routine, teaches us so much… Our siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, every detail of their behaviour towards us, towards others, between them, also marks our lives.

How we deal with small and big problems at home, what decisions we make, whether we confront them or shy away from them, whether we tell the truth or hide it, whether we take responsibility or let it slip away… Each situation tattoos a style, a way of being. And our personality is shaped by all of them.

I’m from that generation that wouldn’t even think of stealing chewing gum, because no matter how little money it was, your mother would go back to the shop with you to return it. Yes, your mother would go with you even though she was ashamed to admit that her son had stolen.

Everything prepares us for life, even the fall… Beware of those parents who directly pave the way so that their children do not even have to face how to jump over the obstacle… The person who is born and grows up in a stable, safe, warm, welcoming, restorative home, in which he/she feels cared for and learns to care, is at an advantage. Those tools that one acquires at home at an early age will allow us to weather any storm and enjoy whatever comes. Because we will have learnt from an early age to distinguish rights from obligations, feelings from emotions, right from wrong, truth from lies, facts from their consequences…

The home becomes a backbone, a pillar without which it is difficult to sustain oneself. And today’s society has neglected the home. It has not given it the value it deserves. We have thought that it was easy, that anything goes, that it will be done, that the school will take care of it, that working outside is more important, that everything can be achieved even if it is only half done, that a little time with our children before going to bed is enough… The percentage of dedication has been reduced to such a level that it is very difficult to explain that ME FIRST is incompatible with the home.

HOME with a capital H is possible when everyone wins. When we all go together when all the adjectives mentioned above are real and we fight, we work daily, we take care of each other on a daily basis. A home is a long-distance race and it is not built overnight, because people are not born today and die tomorrow.

Home and trust

By Prof. Antonio Argandoña. I don’t remember which film it was. I do remember that the protagonist was running through the streets, full of panic: everything around her seemed to be an immediate danger. She reached her house, ran inside, slammed the door shut and stood with her back against the door. She sighed, she was calmer: she was safe. Home is the right place to get ourselves together physically, psychologically and emotionally. The four walls protect us, and the people we meet there we can trust.

This is not always the case. Human beings are vulnerable, we know we are vulnerable, and this leads us to mistrust. But a life based on mistrust is much harder to live. In advanced societies, we have many instruments to provide trust: the law, the police, the judiciary, accountable institutions, social rules and routines, that allow us to operate confidently in the street, at work, when we go shopping, in leisure activities… But these instruments are expensive and not always reliable.

In all our social relations we need trust. Trusting others, and making ourselves trustworthy to others, makes it easier to live together. When do we trust someone? For example, why do I trust the public transport bus to get me to my destination quickly, efficiently and safely? First, because it is consistent: it announces its route, timetable and cost, and delivers. Second, because it is capable of doing so: we have ample evidence that the physical, human and organisational resources of this service work, at least with relative efficiency and safety. And third, because it is in our best interests: we expect it to put our interests ahead of those of the company or the driver.

Home is the place we can trust because those around us want our good above all else, they have demonstrated this to us over many years, and because they have demonstrated their ability to care for us, especially when we are most vulnerable: as children, the sick, the elderly, or simply when mistreated by life. That is why the home must be strong. A strong home gives us confidence, teaches us to give confidence to others and teaches us the importance of trusting others.