SAM Smith started his cleaning business going round the streets with a bucket and sponge.
But 13 years on he owns a successful car wash centre employing 22 people.
Now he is hoping to inspire a new generation, not only by offering them work and training opportunities, but by teaching them life skills as well.
As well as linking up with Job Centre on their work experience programme, 41-year-old Sam has set up his own coaching programme called Support the Youth.
It is based at his Excellent UK car cleaning centre on Common Edge Road in Marton.
He has just taken on eight 16 to 24-year-olds from the Job Centre.
They retain their benefits while on the work experience programme, but Sam hopes to offer them a more sustainable step onto the jobs ladder either through apprenticeships with him, or other local businesses.
He said: “I started my working life at 13 on a milk round, and then I began my cleaning business with a sponge and a bucket. So I know how hard it is, and how tough it is for young people.
“But because I have done it, I hope to inject some inspiration into these young people.
“So when they come here, the Support the Youth programme helps them not just on the work side, but with things like how to save their money and how to ensure they are employable.”
Phillip Pearson, 23, from Marton, was out of work for six months before joining Excellent UK on the Job Centre work experience programme.
He said: “I’m a qualified landscape gardener but had been signing on for about six months.
“I really want to work, and I’ve got two children to support, but I just could not find a job.
“So I’m really pleased to have come here and hopefully I can get taken on as an apprentice at the end of the work experience.”
Richard Bassett, 21, also from Marton, said: “As well as getting a chance to work, I’m getting help with things like saving money towards being able to own my own house one day so it’s about getting my personal life on track as well.
“Sam is a real inspiration, because he had nothing but now has his own business. That’s what I would like, to have my own car valeting business eventually.”
Gareth Carr, employer and partnership manager at Blackpool’s Queen Street Job Centre, said its scheme focused on young people aged 16 to 24.
He said: “We utilise the scheme with customers who have little or no work experience, to provide them with experience in order to enhance their CV and give them a better chance of gaining employment.
“The programme allows us to give the young person, a taste of what the work is all about, and gives them an opportunity to see if the job is right for them.
“There is a wide range of employers signed up with us, and if the placement doesn’t work out in terms of a job outcome, we then work tirelessly with the individual, to use these new found skills to find suitable alternate employment.”