- Course studied:
- Advice Work and Law
- Year of graduation:
Del Shemar helps rehabilitate offenders through education, ensuring they have the skills and knowledge to change their situation after their release from prison. Education was also his own personal gateway to a better life. After leaving school at 17 with no A Levels, he eventually returned to education in his mid-20s, attending Staffordshire University to achieve a Diploma in Advice Work and Law.
“I never thought I was clever enough for A Levels when I was at secondary school,” said Del. “After 17, I did a work training scheme and then I worked in menial labouring jobs until I was 20. I thought, I better think about getting myself an education, so I started volunteer work at the Citizens Advice Bureau.”
Del eventually got a job at a local authority and spent the next 15 years working his way up the ladder, before redundancy forced him to rethink his career. He switched to teaching and now works in an adult prison, as an Offender Learning Lecturer.
Local Authority to Teaching
Del originally grew up in West Bromwich before moving to Walsall when he was six years old, where he attended school until 17 years of age. After several labouring jobs and then five years volunteering for the Citizens Advice Bureau, he moved to Wolverhampton at 26 years old, to work for Dudley Council as a Family Support Officer.
“It was around the time I started working at the local authority that I asked if they would be interested in sending me to university,” Del recalled. “That’s when I started my Diploma at Staffordshire University. It was the biggest achievement in some ways because I was the first in my family to go into higher education. I loved the course. If it hadn’t have been for Staffordshire University and my Diploma I couldn’t have progressed onto a law degree.”
Del went on to complete his education in law at Wolverhampton University, attaining an LLB in 2001. He immediately progressed to a Postgraduate Diploma and then Masters in Criminal Justice at Birmingham City University – all while working for various local authorities.
From 1996 until 2011, Del had risen through various roles, including Family Support Officer, Education Social Worker, Operations Manager and Equalities Officer. He eventually took voluntary redundancy, shortly after achieving a Level 5 Leadership and Management Diploma.
“I thought I would walk into a job with all my qualifications,” Del said. “But that never happened. So, in September 2011, I switched careers and started a PGCE in Adult Literacy.”
During his PGCE, Del went on placement at a young offenders prison. He said: “I remember my tutor saying he’d found me a placement in a prison. I asked ‘why me’, when all the other students were going to colleges, and he said ‘you’re one of the few students who could handle it’. I jumped at the chance. I still love the job today.”
Del has now been working with offenders for the last five years. He lives in Wolverhampton with his family, including two boys. His eldest is due to start a degree in quantity surveying in September and his youngest is taking his GCSEs.
In March 2017, Del was featured in the Daily Mail newspaper, after transforming himself by dropping six stone, reducing his body fat from 32% to 7%, through a rigorous gym routine. He’d been a gym goer for 30 years but, he said, “I’d finally cracked it. I’ve been training for so long and always failed. I did not want failure to stand by my name for the rest of my life.”