The Social Sector Innovation Trust has a new name - SocialLink Tauranga Moana - and has embarked on the next phase of its mission to help build the capacity, capabilities and collaboration within the social services sector in Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty.

And that included closer engagement with business groups such as the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce and Priority One, said chair Sharon Hanna.

The trust was set up in 2012 and had been going through an initial phase of getting its foundation in place and operating workshop events for the not-for-profit sector, with part-time staff support, she said.

Two months ago, Liz Davies was appointed as SocialLink's first general manager. She had previously worked with a range of social service organisations at the Western Bay of Plenty District Council and at Toi Te Ora - Public Health Services.

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"Now we can go the next step and that is really exciting because now we have feet on the ground and can get things rolling," said Ms Hanna. "What Liz has accomplished in the short time she has been employed by us has been fabulous."

SocialLink aimed to act as an umbrella group for organisations within its sector, in a similar way to the way chambers functioned for business, she said. At this stage, SocialLink was interacting with different organisations in the sector, and asking event attendees what areas they would like to see more support in.

"Our long term vision is a valued and connected social sector, by which we mean valued for its contribution to the community and also connected with each other and the rest of the sector."

Ms Davies said her new role would enable the organisation to progress in its aim of partnering with and supporting social services within the area.

"One of my key projects will be to do a stock take as to what organisations are operating here," she said.

"We want the community and funders to have a better understanding of the social services sector. I think it's been quite undervalued for some time. It's about getting a bit more recognition of the sector and the value it provides."

Social services made a significant contribution the WBOP economy in terms both of the funding received for delivering services, as well as the unpaid volunteer hours contributed, she said.

SocialLink Tauranga Moana
• Currently working out of premises at the Historic Village.
• Will eventually move into the new TECT-funded community hub to be constructed at the village.