AN independent group which helps people with dementia is a significant step closer to opening a dedicated centre for the town's 3,000 sufferers after a £20,000 grant.

Barnsley Independent Alzheimer's and Dementia Support launched the 'Buy a Brick' appeal in March to raise money to open its own centre to give local people the services they and their carers need to help them cope with disease.

The group has been awarded a one-off grant of £20,000 by Barnsley Council through its Health and Social Care Innovation Fund, taking the total amount raised to £32,000 of the £45,000 it needs.

Pam Evans, development manager, said: "It's a very exciting time for us. We always said we wanted to put our Christmas tree up in our new centre and now it looks like that will be a reality."

In addition, it has also been awarded £10,000 from the same fund for a part-time activity worker and a £2,000 donation from Barnsley Football Club which was their share of proceeds from the Community Shield.

At the moment, BIADS is forced to split its services between two sites, at Barnsley Community Build on Sheffield Road and Sheffield Road Baptist Church, on the edge of the town centre.

"Our members are over the moon," said Pam. "They knew we were trying our best to raise the money but this has blown them away.

"It would be a big support if they can have one place where people know their names and history and where they can pop in when they're having a crisis or are lonely.

"To get everything in one place has always been our dream."