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Mark Cook, Founder President of Hope and Homes for Children

A soldier with the Gurkhas for over 30 years, Mark Cook left the Army in 1993, following his experience in the Balkans war when he was Commander of the British UN Contingent. He and his wife Caroline started Hope and Homes for Children in 1994 to provide homes for orphans of war or disaster. Their original idea was to repair or build orphanages to give these children security, but soon they realised that what they needed more than anything else was the love of a real family.

The mission of Hope and Homes for Children is to be the catalyst for the global elimination of institutional care for children, by enabling them to grow up within the love of a family and the security of a home, so that they can fulfil their potential.

A global expert in the field of deinstitutionalisation, Hope and Homes for Children is now working alongside governments and civil society organisations in over 30 countries to dismantle orphanage-based care systems. Its transformation model is driving reform and laying the foundations for long-lasting change. By closing institutions, supporting children into loving, stable families and working with governments to tackle the root causes of family breakdown, Hope and Homes for Children is working towards a day where orphanages have been eliminated for good.

Mark says, “More children are being orphaned or abandoned today than ever before in history and many of them will have to resort to begging, crime, prostitution or violence just to survive. The world has to realise that this is a crisis on an unprecedented scale as these children will grow up to be disenfranchised, angry people.” He believes passionately that action must be taken now to give these children a real chance in life, so turning potentially negative forces into positive ones. BBC correspondent Martin Bell said, “Mark is evidence that the belief, audacity and practical idealism of an individual can effect monumental changes in the world.”

Mark is an accomplished speaker and broadcaster. His achievements are backed by a charismatic nature which, despite having seen the tragedies of war first-hand, contains a great ‘joie de vivre’. Both he and Caroline are Officers of the Order of the British Empire and in 2018 were awarded the National Order of Loyal Service in the Rank of Knight, one of Romania’s highest honours, for their work to close orphanages and reform the country’s child protection system over the last 20 years.