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UEA student gives out thousands of face masks to thank welcoming Norwich community

PUBLISHED: 18:53 13 May 2020 | UPDATED: 18:53 13 May 2020

University of East Anglia student Songze Chang who has been giving out face masks to people in Norwich during the coronavirus outbreak. Picture: UEA

University of East Anglia student Songze Chang who has been giving out face masks to people in Norwich during the coronavirus outbreak. Picture: UEA

UEA

An international student has donated thousands of face masks to the elderly and frontline workers to say thank you to Norwich for its warm welcome.

The face masks given out to members of the public by University of East Anglia student Songze Chang. Picture: UEAThe face masks given out to members of the public by University of East Anglia student Songze Chang. Picture: UEA

Songze Chang, 24, who studies at the University of East Anglia (UEA) was inspired to give out face masks during the coronavirus pandemic after being stopped by an elderly man in a supermarket who wanted to find out where the student had got his mask from.

Mr Chang, who comes from Shanxi in China but now lives in West Earlham, said: “In that moment I felt that I really needed to help him. Later on, I bought 100 face masks from China online and packed them up including some positive messages and an image of my national flag.

“My friends and I started to give them out in Norwich, many of whom told us they didn’t have access to the internet to buy them. People were surprised and receptive to our offer and thanked us, many putting them on straight away as they entered supermarkets.”

After videos of him and his friends giving out masks to people in Norwich appeared on social media site TikTok he was donated hundreds more masks from people in China and has so far received 8,000 face coverings.

As well as the elderly, the masks will go toward workers at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Earlham Police station and local care homes.

MORE: Wear facemasks in shops and on public transport, government says

The global media economics postgraduate student added: “People always speak to me who are interested in my home country, how living in the UK is different and what I want to do after my studies. I am very thankful to be living in such a safe, kind and welcoming community where everyone embraces international students.”

He took up his year-long course in September 2019 and said Norwich had been a friendly and inviting community.

Karen Blackney, head of the UEA international office, said: “When I heard about this, I was so delighted that in these challenging times, an international student from UEA has reached out to help others in our Norfolk community.

“What an amazing example of a humanitarian act that crosses all boundaries. Nothing exemplifies more clearly that we are all in this together and that our common humanity can and should win through. Congratulations to Songze and thank you for your generosity and kindness.”

For the latest COVID-19 news, visit the Norfolk Coronavirus Updates Facebook page.

Click here to find out more about the EDP’s Here to Help campaign.

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