Writtle University College and ARU have merged. Writtle’s full range of college, degree, postgraduate and short courses will still be delivered on the Writtle campus. See our guide to finding Writtle information on this site.

John Niland

John Niland

Areas of Interest

Health Care

Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of Science, 2015


John was CEO of Provide for more than a decade, a community interest company that delivers a broad range of high-quality health and social care services to a population of 1.9 million people in Essex. Provide supports Anglia Ruskin students with scholarships, internships and bursaries for CHE students.

John Niland is an E&Y Entrepreneur of the year 2014 - winner of the Social Enterprise Entrepreneur category. Innovation and customer care are John’s driving forces for patient care. John is passionate about social business and supports the wider industry by sharing knowledge of best practice. He is one of only 15 Mutual Ambassadors in the UK. Provide has also invested over £1m in worthy causes. He has a degree in Politics from the University of Essex and post-graduate degree from the University of Southbank in Urban Policy.

Although the bulk of John’s career so far has been in the local government setting, having worked for 16 years in various positions, he previously worked in both the voluntary and independent sectors.  He was a transport planner with Essex County Council before moving into the planning and commissioning services in social care.  He is credited with setting up community and accessible public transport schemes across the county of Essex.

John’s involvement with the NHS began in 2004 when he became PEC Chair of the former Maldon & South Chelmsford PCT, and then Joint PEC Chair of Mid Essex PCT. He was appointed Project Director, Provider Services in April 2007 and was then appointed Chief Executive of Provide, stepping down in 2020.


John Niland was Chief Executive Officer of Provide - a community interest company responsible for delivering a broad range of health and social care services to the people of Essex, Cambridge, Peterborough and North East London.

John first entered public service back in 1990 when he took up the role of Transport Planner with Essex County Council. He later moved into Planning and Commissioning Services within Social Care, and played a key role in setting up community and accessible public transport schemes across the county.

In 2004, John was appointed Professional Executive Committee Chair of the former Maldon & South Chelmsford Primary Care Trust, later serving as Joint Professional Executive Committee Chair of the Mid Essex Primary Care Trust.

In 2011, as part of the Government initiative to separate the commissioning and provider roles within the NHS, a new entity was created - Central Essex Community Services. Led by John, this not-for-profit, employee-owned organisation took over responsibility for delivering local NHS services in the community. In 2013, the organisation changed its name to Provide. Today this thriving social enterprise employs more than eleven hundred people and delivers an expanding range of services, working in hospitals, community clinics, schools and nursing homes, and providing care within peoples’ homes.

Although Provide remains part of the NHS family, as an independent enterprise it has the freedom to innovate and evolve new ways of delivering care. One recent pilot scheme utilises new technology to provide therapy to patients in their homes. As a true social enterprise, Provide has no shareholders to compensate, which allows it to reinvest any surplus within the local community. This means that to date, Provide has committed more than £750,000 to voluntary and community organisations in mid Essex.

John’s innovative leadership style is evident throughout the organisation. A good example would be Provide’s approach to measuring success, whereby their performance is based on actual feedback from service users rather than dry statistics.  In 2014, John’s achievements were recognised by the judges of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards, when they named him Social Enterprise Entrepreneur of the year. The panel was particularly impressed by John’s willingness to expand into new service areas.

John is passionate about the utilisation of the social business model as a means to improve patient care and he supports the wider industry by sharing his extensive knowledge of best practice. He is one of only fifteen government-appointed Mutual Ambassadors in the UK.

John is a hugely successful and well-respected business and social entrepreneur. His track-record has earned him a prestigious national award, and the organisation he leads continues to set new standards in efficiency and quality.

He has a long-standing relationship with Anglia Ruskin and his support has benefited staff and students across two of our faculties through the provision of bursaries, prizes and work placements, and we are therefore delighted to welcome him to our Anglia Ruskin community.