Matt Kenny: Breaking the cycle


Matt Kenny has always cycled. However, unlike most people, he wasn’t cycling simply for sport or for enjoyment – he felt that he needed to ‘punish’ himself after going on a drinking binge.

Matt struggled with alcoholism and addiction for years, and would enter periods of drinking for several days, which would only be broken up by going on the bike. Matt says, ‘I wouldn’t call it an exaggeration to say that cycling has saved my life. It provided me with a sort of focus to stop and get out on the road instead.’

Although Matt had cycling as a positive focus, he was still trapped in vicious cycle of drinking and drug abuse, which also affected his ability to be physically active. He referred himself to the Society of St James in 2016, a charity that works with people affected by substance abuse, mental health and homelessness.

Matt worked through his issues by going to group sessions and therapy, and ended up being taken on as a volunteer. He eventually ended up volunteering for ‘Brake the Cycle’, which is a Cycling UK supported community club, run by SSJ and Saints Foundation, that takes Saints4Sport service users out every Friday to ride on the bike trails in the New Forest.

Matt has become an important team member and helper with the rides, and through Cycling UK, he has obtained training as a mountain bike leader and for first aid, and he now plots routes for the group to ride, helps to set up the bikes and the trailers, and helps to lead the rides themselves.

Matt says that when he started at Saints4Sport he was impatient with the seemingly chaotic structure due to his own control issues and need for structure, but through riding with the group he has become a lot more relaxed and patient with other riders in the group. He feels like he can chat about his issues more in the cycling group than in the group work sessions as it’s less informal.

If you’d like to know more about Saints4Sport and our other Employability & Learning opportunities, contact our Senior Employability & Learning Project Officer, Michelle Young at

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