THE devastated parents of tragic teen Lauren Johnson have said ‘our daughter’s death needs to be the last’ at Accrington’s Arndale Centre.
The 17-year-old died after falling from the top of the centre’s car park, in Union Street, last Thursday, leading to renewed calls for improved safety measures after five deaths in five years there.
In a statement, the Burnley-born student’s mum and dad, Dawn and Ian, said: “There is a lot of public interest in the way she died and the issues surr-ounding the Arndale Centre. We have spoken to the manager and expressed our views that everything possible needs to be done to stop another tragedy.
“Services need to work tog-ether to make the Arndale Centre less accessible to incidents like this, and do all they can to ensure safety.”
The pair also paid tribute to Lauren, from Blackburn Road, Oswaldtwistle, and described her as ‘an altruistic, selfless, intelligent young lady, who always saw the good in people’.
They said: “She was a beautiful young lady, with a beautiful soul, and was loved very much.
“However, the difficulties she experienced with her mental health took her away from us.
“We were privileged to have spent her short life with her, and it is a void that can never be filled.”
One of Lauren’s friends, Michael Pope, has pledged to create a lasting legacy for Lauren by opening a safe haven for young people with mental health issues in Accrington - a charity called Lauren’s Place.
The 30-year-old said Lauren had hoped to become an ambassador for young people battl-ing to overcome their demons.
He said: “It was her dream, so this will make sure her dreams come true.
“We want to offer 24-hour support, and somewhere to go when people are at that point in life where Lauren was, when they are being failed by the org-anisations that are supposed to be there to help.”
A meeting will be held in the town later today to discuss plans, and Michael, who lived in Burnley before moving to North Shore, in Blackpool, said Lauren’s mum would be invited to become trustee.
Michael, who met Lauren through his band Laufeia, said: “When you spoke to Lauren, it was hard to believe she was only 17.
“She was so intelligent and humble.
“She was the type of girl you would want your daughter to grow up and be.”
More than 2,200 people have joined a Facebook group calling for the Arndale Centre to be ‘made safe, or knocked down’, And more than 500 people have also signed an online petition addressed to the Arn-dale Centre’s owners, titled ‘Stop public access to the roof of Accrington Arndale’.
A march from the town hall to the Arndale Centre, from 11am on Saturday, is planned.
Management has since pledged to work with the council and the Samaritans to ‘prevent further incidents’.
Lauren’s funeral will be held at Accrington Crematorium tomorrow, at 3pm.
Mourners have been asked to adorn odd socks, a trend fashioned by Lauren.
The family has asked for donations, in lieu of flowers, to go to Child Line, or Young Minds.