According to a new advisory from the U.S. Surgeon General, #loneliness can increase the risk of premature death to levels comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes daily. The #Rotary Club of Chichester Priory is tackling loneliness one chat at a time.

For Vera Cranmer and Sylvia Worden, two friends in their 80s, it's hard to overstate how much they look forward to their regular visits with the teenage students at a local college on England's south coast. "We savor these visits like reunions with long-lost friends," Worden says.

The women live independently in their homes in Chichester, a picturesque and vibrant cathedral city near the sea. But Worden, who once worked as a teacher there, was widowed a few years ago, and her outings in town are far less frequent. Cranmer, too, has had to cope with feelings of isolation.

"Some of the elders, like me, may not have been out for a week or two," Worden says. "The college meetings help us to engage with the students who help us to cope with feelings of isolation. It's also great because of the relationships we are able to form with other elders."

Cranmer agrees and adds, "It's a good way to spend what could be a lonely day."

Read the full story here: Connection is a cure | Rotary International