Barrydale has a population of approximately 6 000 people; most of whom are historically disadvantaged South Africans. A further 3 000 people live and work on farms surrounding Barrydale and within a 30 kilometres radius. This is the catchment area which Barrydale Hospice already serves.
Barrydale is no different from other rural towns in the Western Cape, South Africa. There is a significant proportion of elderly in the population who must contrive to manage on their fixed incomes/state grants. The town is served by two government schools, several rural primary-level farm schools, a social worker, a provincial clinic and by emergency services vehicles with crew whose numbers fluctuate. The clinic operates 8 hrs a day, 5 days a week. There is no resident doctor, dentist or pharmacist and the closest private medical facilities and provincial hospital are in Swellendam which is situated some 50 kilometres from Barrydale. There is no regular public transport system to enable less fortunate residents to travel to Swellendam for health care and consequently many people go untreated or receive haphazard or inadequate treatment in contravention of their basic constitutional rights.
With a limited schooling system and a shortage of resources the youth face difficult challenges on leaving school. Job opportunities outside of agriculture are extremely limited and consequently many of our youth migrate to larger towns to pursue career opportunities, leaving behind the the unskilled workers and older residents.