I am not a social worker because a regulator says that I am.
I signed up to be part of an international profession, with a global identity and ethics, and with a shared purpose that crosses national boundaries.
I studied with others who shared a commitment to this identity, ethics and purposes. I carried out work that enabled me to put these into practice. I continue to learn and develop so that I can do this better.
As it happens, I undertook a course approved in England as qualifying me to act ethically and purposefully as a social worker. A few years after qualifying I joined a newly set up register which confirmed that I was not practising unsafely. I undertook a recognised post qualifying award that helped me to practise better in my chosen field.
I have a certificate from a university that confirms I have a social work qualification. But that is not what makes me a social worker. I have a card from the regulator that confirms I am a social worker. But that is not what makes me a social worker.
As a profession we join together, and we join up across the world, to hold true to our identity, ethics and values. We argue for the importance of these together. We influence developments to ensure that they do not contradict them. And we preserve the true identity, ethics and purpose of social work, holding up the example of what social work can be and what it can do.
This is more than a qualification, registration or a role. We need to join together to speak out about who we are, what we do and how we do it well, and to influence others to enable us to fulfil the promise of our profession. This is how we build understanding, trust and support for what social work really is.